I live every day with the goal to make it the best day. Every morning I reset myself to open my heart to all the possibilities of the day. I envision happiness, content, laughter, and a flow of positive energy. Every night I go to bed reliving the day, grabbing the best moment and feeling thankful for each of them, from the ordinary to the extraordinary moments. This I do every day, why? Because life can throw anything at you, without warning, and without any consideration, I have learned this the hard way… Now that we are housebound and we are staying at home alone, or with family, or with friends, there are moments that we want to break free of the constraint and we “need to do something that requires the outside”, we are all feeling the same. This feeling of wanting to break down our limitations and have our freedom to come and go is equal to all of us.
I am about to turn 40 in a few months, the big 40, and when I look back, Life (or destiny) has given me hard lessons, not all at once, but every few years… yes, a part of me has learned to “expect” the storm which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you see it.
So how do I cope with difficult times? We all have different ways of coping, for me, there is one action that has allowed me to move forward, time and time again, which is being compassionate with myself. I allow myself to feel all in, and then I try to see the positive way out, owning my feelings, being kind about my feelings, not judging me but looking for ways to move forward.
I would like to talk about one of the “storms” of my life, not the most destructive or painful, but the one that I keep thinking and going back to now that we are “bound” in our homes.
When I was 17 years old, just a few days away from turning 18, I had a car accident. I was driving and had friends in the car, and because of one or too many reasons, I lost control and we went down a ditch, a really big ditch. I don’t remember much right after the accident, I know we got out of the car, that one of my friends was bleeding, and that we climbed the ditch back up, that a car was passing by and gave us a lift to the hospital. I remember my parents being worried about my friends, who were our guests, and trying to get them back to the city in an ambulance. A good friend of mine saw me sitting by myself, being completely out of it, so he sat next to me, he realized I was in shock, so he asked me to lay down and put my head on his legs, and then… and then I could not move. People rushed at me and X-rays were taken revealing that I had fractured my neck (C5) and 4 other vertebras in my back (L5 – L2), with a couple of broken ribs that no one mentioned again. All of a sudden all the attention was on me, getting me to the city was the priority, getting me in an ambulance, in the hospital, immobilizing me.
The next few days were painful both physically and mentally, but we got through, I had a great doctor that had experience on my particular situation and quickly moved forward with the Halo (picture below)
I spent the next three weeks adjusting to the Halo, but happy I was able to move, it was going to be a process, but that the outcome seemed very good. I had a cast for my lower back which did not bother me as much since the Halo was painful. I asked the doctor for how long I will stay with the Halo? He said 3 to 4 months, I thought I could do that, one day at a time, and focus on the outcome, on the moment in which all will be ok again.
Four weeks into the treatment, one of Halo’s nails in the back of my head, sprung back, I had a reaction against it, and by the time I got back to the hospital, the doctor had to remove the whole thing, Got me a new neck brace, called Minerva, and told me to stay in bed, looking at the roof, with no movement, until I was able to try again the Halo. I spent three weeks in bed not moving at all, with sores in my back and tears in my eyes.
After three weeks, the doctor said, my skin had healed and the Halo was back. This time it was decided I will shave my head to make sure we can see if my skin was reacting again, and a dermatologist was brought in as part of the team of doctors. Unfortunately, the time to recover was reset, meaning my last two months were not valid, and the 3 to 4-month countdown started again. But I was able to walk, and that was enough. I was put on a simple diet that will allow me to stay healthy due to the fact I was with limited movement, and my stomach was able to handle since I was taking a lot of strong medicines.
I spent my days playing scrabble (alone), watching cable TV, and being entertained by whoever came to visit. I made myself a pretty good schedule that I will make sure I will follow every day. Within the confines of my house with an outing every few days (not easy to walk around with the Halo as people just stare at you especially with a bold head). But the time passed, one day at a time, morning, noon, and then it was night time, and another day was crossed off in the calendar.
My “new” 3 to 4 month became 8, which was very painful (pain wise) with the pressure of the halo having to be adjusted every week, bringing tears to my eyes, as soon as I would walk in the doctor’s office. But the day came and 10 months after my car accident, the Halo was removed. I was bold, and still had to wear a neck brace, but I was happy. So very happy. I went to dinner with my parents, a nice place, and we toasted, just the three of us.
It’s been four weeks of being homebound, but for me, but when I think of being homebound I cannot help but feel that it is ok, because it has been worse. This time around I don’t have a Halo, I can move freely in my house without feeling pain, I can play scrabble with my family or online with other people, I can cook different meals and not have a stomach ache.
I think about those that are sick, those that are bound to a bed, that cannot move, the people that are hurting and in pain and under extreme uncertainty about their medical status, my heart goes to them.
In summary below are tips and lessons that I have learned during my car accidents that I apply today to the social distancing and been homebound:
I believe in the power of gratitude, to look into our lives with kindness, compassion, and love. To believe that we all have a life purpose and that the pursuit of happiness is imprinted when we are born.
I believe that we are all the same, humans, that my pain is not more hurtful than your pain, that my happiness is not more deserving than yours. We are all searching for different things but that leads to the same goal: to live our lives, to live it the best we can.
I am providing you with some questions that you can use during this coming week, questions which while we honestly answer them we can calm our minds, ease our anxiety, take a hold of our fears, and smile with hope and faith.
I hope these questions provide you time with your thoughts and feelings. That beyond the anguish, uncertainty, and fear that surrounds us you can find the moment to be present with yourself. To talk with your mind with kindness and understanding. We, grown-ups, do have our own set of worries, our parents, our sons and daughters, our jobs, our life that we have been building day by day, it all seems to be on the verge of crumbling and it is scary. But do believe that we are resilient, we are stronger than what we believe, that we are empowered by our history and comforted by our vision of the future. We should not lose track of that, especially of our vision of the future. It is about doing all we can today so that our future can unfold itself.
Do I owe someone forgiveness? Do I need to ask for forgiveness?
Am I open to feel small moments of happiness around me?
To whom or what can I give my wholehearted attention today?
How I am consolidating the feelings of what I want to do and I need to do?
What motivates me today to make the decisions I am making today?
As our minds start to spiral out of control, we need to take a moment to reflect on our feelings, the validate them, understand them, and when the necessary act above them. The human race for, once again, is having its strength tested, however, this is 2020 and we can expect that our technological advances can match our personal and emotional ones. We, united, can overcome this pandemic. United is the key.
Moving your work station from an office to your home (even if it is a partial move) takes adjustment, now add kids to the mix and we are in “shock mode”… and to top it off now add the terrible and scary news we are constantly hearing and it becomes a day to day challenge.
Personally, I went from doing a light breakfast and dinner to a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner with snacks in between. The dishwasher is finally been used to its maximum capabilities and providing a fast and quick dinner is taking priority over healthy and nutritious…
I have been able to cook a full dinner every afternoon for the last 5 years. From pasta to casseroles to soups, I have always enjoyed cooking for the family and cooking with a 30 to 45-minute time frame. I will start passing on my recipes and cooking ideas, perhaps it can help you out during those moments in which we do not know what to cook or want something easy and fast using what we already have in our fridge and pantry.I am hopeful it will help you out. Below is our Beef Stew Recipe using the Instant Pot. For this particular recipe, the seasoning stays the same, however, the veggies are what I have at that moment in the fridge or pantry, from potatoes to spinach and everything in between.
Rinse your meat (I do) and add 2 tbsps of flour to coat. In the Instant Pot heat oil (I use olive oil), and brown the meat on all sides. Take out of the Instant Pot and put on aside.
Add a bit of water to the pan to scrape the pot. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and carrots, cook for 3 minutes, then add the green beans and cook for 2 minutes. Add the split peas and lentils and mix well. Add all your seasonings and mix again.
Add 5 cups of beef stock (or water) and 2 cups of water and mix well. Close the Instant Pot and put in high pressure mode for 33 minutes.
Once the time is up, let the pressure out naturally for 10 minutes, then open the vent manually and let the rest of the pressure out. Open the pot and add your spinach or kale and mix it all, close it and let it stand for 5 minutes.
Serve over rice. Enjoy and you are very welcome!
Below are some of my favorite items for my kitchen! It is an affiliate so I would get a small commission from Amazon!
(at the end of this post there are two Book Review templates for you and your kids now that we will be spending more times indoors)
I got this book at a quilter club I belonged to. It caught my attention as they were raving about it so I immediately ordered the book and was anticipating reading it. When I started reading I quickly realized this was in the non-fiction category, and I was looking forward to a fiction book, so I politely put the book in the “book pile” and went on to read something else, then something else, and something else. As I started this blog, I got a bit frustrated, and even more frustrated, so I decided to take a break and open up my forgotten book, and OH MY as I read this book I went through sp many emotions regarding creativity, fear of rejection, self-criticizing, and courage to express our inner creative self… our own personal magic.
My Personal Opinion:
Personally, I believe the book was written for people like me, a semi-creative person that feels the constraint of self-doubt, and for me, this book was liberating. As a person with an engineering degree, and at the same time having the long dream of being a writer, this book allowed me to think for the first time, of what I can be and what I can do. My own devotion to International Maritime Regulations is not connected to my ever-present love for writing poems, short stories, and even a novel. I do have the ability (and the right) to live a creative life, and Elizabeth Gilbert just allowed me to believe it.
I do recommend this book, especially for younger generations, due to the constant inspiring words that are mentioned throughout the book. Chapter after chapter, hope, self-reliance, self-worth, kindness, compassion, and love are constant as much as patriotism, inclusion, and equality.
“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner—continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you—is a fine art, in and of itself.”Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
“It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes, too.”Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
I do recommend this book, to each person in the world which at some point is curious about pursuing a creative endeavor, from writing to quilting to woodworking to painting, any activity in which creativity takes the wheel and we become just the transportation, the instrument.
This book opens the ability to believe that what we love to do, define us in terms of our courage to express it but do not define who we are as unique individuals. Creativity is a part of us that needs to be cherished and cultivated with love and care, without losing focus of our lives as we build it.
The Highlights of the Book
In my opinion, one of the most inspiring parts of the book is her blunt honesty on how she sees failure and rejection. Her ability to be so honest allowed me to believe in her, to really see that each rejection was just another reason to try again. Her ability to explain courage through other stories was liberating.
This is a very light book. It’s an encouraging book. I think for the purpose of writing or living a creative life is most encouraging. It will give you some tips here and there but is mostly subjective, mean to be inspirational, to allow you to lose the fear.
In terms of finding something substantial and practical that can be taken away to put into practice, there is not much about it. So, it is not an instructional book, but an inspirational one.
Information as found in Amazon:
What are you reading? What do you recomend me? I am always looking for recommendations to add to my reading list.
Below is the link to the book in Amazon. It is an affiliate so I do get a small comission. Thanks
Below are some Book Reviews Templates that you can use for you and your kids now that we will spending more time at home due to the current outbreak of the Coronavirus
I am always in the lookout for easy, fast, and budget-friendly recipes, however, I want to create recipes that are tasty and unique. That my family will enjoy eating while I don’t lose my cool in the 45 minutes time frame I gave myself to cook dinner when I come back from my job.
With time and a lot of trial and error, I have come to understand what my family will enjoy, and that includes meals that have an Asian flair. From all sorts of curry dishes to Chinese stir fry, to ramen soup, the mix of all those exotic flavors is usually a winner in my household.
This recipe came from another one I saw years ago. It was not until recently that I took the time to try different versions until landing this one. My husband bought the ground turkey and after some thinking came up with this recipe and was a winner at dinner time. I hope you like it too!
We human beings have overdeveloped the ability to make life more difficult than it really is. To defeat ourselves before the war begins, to be our worst critic. If we just take a moment to recognize the people around us we could realize that we are all in the same river, fish swimming in the same stream, some against the current, others in favor of the current, but all trying to survive, to stay afloat.
We are busy bees working to pay out our bills and at the same time fueling the need to have more, to go bigger, to keep up with the people we follow in our social media, and at the same time working towards getting people to follow us.
“It’s not so much what we have in this life that matters. It’s what we do with what we have.”by Fred Rogers
Some of us work towards taking seriously the responsibility of raising decent human beings, provide to our kids a better life of the one we had, but without spoiling them into becoming self-absorbed people. We work hard on giving them all they need (and want), but with the resentment that our efforts are not appreciated.
We want to believe in love (the one that grows with time and the one that is instant), but we are not willing to put in the work. To be patient, to be forgiving, to be kind, to learn to be a team that will have defeats and victories, but which goal is always to pass the finish line regardless of the distance of the race.
“Difficult and meaningful will always bring more satisfaction than easy and meaningless”by Maxime Lagacé
And what if, at this moment we decided to be more present in our lives? To relax the competition with the person next to us, and nod and congratulate them for their success, or to relax and enjoy a board game with our growing kids while they tell us stories that will make absolutely no sense to us but for which we will still nod and laugh. To relax the arduous task of following the masses (which is always in disagreement) to revisit our lives, our goals, our dreams, to make the list of things we can be thankful for today. Take a deep breath… and take another.
Mindfulness is, without a doubt, a source that can help us lower our stress level and allow us to recharge when our tanks are running empty. Day after day we focus so much on “getting things done”, sticking to the planner, and dealing with the unexpected. As part of our mindfulness practice, is important to practice it as a family so that as a family we can be aware and grateful for the life we are living.
Below are options that can get you and your family in the mindfulness path and the rewards are worth the try.
As we are all trying our best to work our schedules, checking items to our to-do list while adding more it, it is important to recognize that the journey we are on is a shared one and our family is directly impacted by our actions, reactions, and inactions. Working together as a family to be mindful is an opportunity to share more time together, create memories and make love simply flourish.
Mornings can be tough… The eternal juggling of managing people, pets, and oneself so early in the morning can be quite overwhelming. I remember getting out of the house and sitting in my car thinking… I’m ready to call it a day, and I still have to go to work!! With time, I started to pay more attention to our routine , and with practice my family and I were able to make it work. Of course it is still hectic, but not as chaotic as before. It has a flow that we have gotten used to as a family, and when I get into my car to go to work I can catch myself smiling, choosing a new podcast for the drive with a sense of accomplishment.
So what are my tips? I’ll share them with you and hopefully it will give you focus during those early hours of the morning.
Not every morning will be perfect , and we know it. A spilled glass of water, a grumpy/sick kid in the morning, even we can wake up on the wrong side of the bed sometimes, but when we put the organization into it, even the bad mornings become manageable, and most importantly LESS STRESSED!
Sometimes I do think that one day when my kids have gone to college, I will look back and see all those morning with gratitude. Each one of your mornings are a segment of your life timeline and should be enjoyed to the max. Maybe one day it’ll be just me and my husband waking up to a cup of coffee and those moments will surely be cherished and remembered.
By Marisabel A. Park
My husband and I have been trying our best to practice gratitude at night time. With time we have noted how been grateful influences our day to day thoughts and feelings. From being grateful for the big things (the health of our kids) to be grateful for the more ordinary things (My new recipe worked). As the night sets in and we are resting in our bed we name two things for which we are grateful, it makes us smile and sometimes laugh, it makes us feel the complicity of knowing that we are lucky, that we have enough, that we have what we need. We are grateful.
A few weeks ago we started including the kids. They are 12 and 9 and we thought they were up to the challenge. We work hard to try to have a “dinner time” every day, the four of us, with a home-cooked meal and a mandatory conversation, so we decided this was the right time to do it and it has been surprising to see what our kids can be grateful once they feel comfortable enough to open up to us.
They are grateful because we took them to soccer practice or swimming clinics, grateful because the dinner tastes good or because they had good dreams the night before, they are grateful because they got good grades or did well in a school assignment, they are grateful for cold weather, and rainy weather, they are grateful we give them extra 15 minutes in the Ipads or we left them to watch a TV show. They are grateful because we do nice things for them and because we love them. Every time they say they are grateful out loud it becomes real to them and it becomes real to us.
As the new year starts I challenge you to practice gratitude. To practice it with your family, with your loved ones, with your close friends. Practice gratitude so that your mind can remind your soul of the great things around you.
I spend I good amount of time with my oldest son who is 12 almost every afternoon. My younger son plays soccer so he is usually gone with my husband to the soccer field and comes home after 7:30 almost every night of the week. That leaves me and my oldest one home alone. Although we spent all those hours in the same place I find myself sometimes not interacting much with him. I am busy cooking, catching up with laundry, cleaning, and working. My son would usually do his homework in the kitchen so at least we are in the same “space”, but sometimes he goes to his room and I do give him his time and privacy.
However, as a rule, I try to sit with him at least twice a week and talk. I do put myself in his shoes as a 12-year-old. I was a very alert kid, I was never shielded from popular culture and reality, I was always behaving ahead of my age and I am not expecting him to be the opposite of me.
So what do we talk about? Well, he would usually do the talk, I would listen and ask questions when I am not following the story or I am asked for my opinion. We make ourselves two cups of tea and we sit down and talk it out.
I ask him questions like:
The intention of these questions is for him to talk. To open up. I don’t judge, and I don’t get upset even when the answer is not what I am expecting. The intention of the conversation is to see WHAT is his mind and WHAT are his thoughts so that I can better APPROACH and UNDERSTAND him.
There are times in which we would go for a run and 45 minutes later I realized he has not stopped talking, that every question I have asked he has answered honestly and a long story along with the answer. And there are times in which I feel that no matter how open I present myself, his brain and mood are not there, then I give him time and check with him the next day.
The important aspect is to keep the lines of communication open. Understand that no matter how hectic, tedious, tiring, and frustrating our day has been, it has NO relation with our younger kiddos. They pick up the clues and keys of our behavior and react to what they feel (or assume) is going on. The initiative of communication should come from us the parents so that they understand how important their growth and development is.
As the conversation with my son goes, we can debate (very common), and we can also joke and laugh. I will listen to his long explanation of why this and why that (usually very wrong explanation) which I will follow with… Ok, I understand where you are coming from, do you think you can hear me out to see my point? Again it is a two-way conversation, no need to be judgmental or shut down the flow of the conversation. The beauty of the moment is what you will learn from your kids and hopefully, the little bit of wisdom that they will learn from you.