So I really love cooking but what I mean here is that I am learning to love cooking new recipes, specifically, healthy, lower calorie, or “Points Plus” recipes. I decided that we should use my nifty new Weight Watcher’s cookbook, Tastier Than Take Out to find inspiration. Gary and I browsed through the book this morning and decided on a Mediterranean meal. We selected the Lemon Oregano Grilled Mahimahi and Sweet Onions and a Greek salad. We headed down to Trader Joe’s and got our provisions and came home to create a 10 out of 10 dinner for two. Gary the grill-master found new inspiration for grilling fish and sweet onions. The salad was a combined effort of preparation, but I must admit that with a bit of encouragement and a couple of great recipes, the team of Amy and Gary once again succeeded! When looking at the photo below, you will note the addition of garlic bread and Pinot Noir. It is important to create a meal that satisfies and this one really did the trick. As we sat gazing out of our sky-high kitchen nook window, we realized that we are our favorite cooks and our meals never disappoint. Maybe we are on a roll and we can dabble in Weight Watcher cooking heaven. Eating so well and staying on my points “budget” was the perfect end to a lovely, long weekend.
I went to the Topanga Film Festival this morning to see the documentary Happy and I started thinking about happiness, the concept, the reality and the possibilities. I have been following The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for about a year now and enjoy the daily quotes and reflections, but I wondered, how can I spread happiness, encourage happiness and find areas in my life to insert happiness?
Encouraging signs are popping up everywhere, for example, my husband was given the book Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert awhile ago and it was mentioned in the movie today, and this quote that showed up today on Facebook from Weight Watchers:“Life has no remote. You have to get up and change it yourself!”
So I know what I can do to make myself happy:
incorporate a healthy lifestyle into my daily life,
allow creativity to be a priority
spend time with my family
connect with my close friends
practice kindness and toleranceNow I want to expand by giving more happiness:
sharing what I have to give
helping worthy causes
creating more happiness in my home
creating more happiness in my classroom
It is a commitment, but also a choice, to surround oneself with happiness. It is a road I am choosing to walk.
The rain is dissipating, the clouds are blowing off to other regions and though the ground is still damp the wisteria have decided to burst open filling the yard with fragrant, lovely lavender blossoms. The bees aren’t interested in us anymore, they are drunk on the sweet-smelling nectar oozing from these springtime visitors.
It has been seven years since we planted these wisteria plants and I’ve grown used to their arrival with the sudden explosion of lavender perfume and the following lush green foliage. It is a treat every year and a pleasure I look forward too. In other areas, the seasons bring radical differences of shocking red, orange and yellow leaves, dramatic weather, snow, blizzards or tornadoes, but in California, we delight in the smaller changes: actual creeks, small waterfalls, lupines and wisteria. It reminds me that there will be warmer weather to look forward to.
Our wisteria is a simple pleasure, but one I can enjoy free every time I open the sliding door to the garden. It brings tears to my eyes, as do many sensory experiences that elicit memories of other Springs when there were more of us here in this house, and times were not so uncertain. The scent of spring flowers is an expected indulgence that I have shared with my family and even my dog seems to wallow in the heady blossoms that litter the patio.
Spring is a time for new beginnings, and as my Weight Watcher leader said at our Saturday meeting, “We can’t create a new beginning, but we can create a new ending.” We have a chance in the Spring to start again, to look forward at the ending we want to create and begin now to walk that road. The wisteria remind me that there are possibilities and there is still hope. I hope I see them blossom again next Spring.
My New Year’s Day tradition is to create a collage visualization of my hopes, dreams and plans for the New Year and so this afternoon I sat down at the kitchen table with my husband and youngest daughter (who is 19) and spent a pleasant couple of hours scanning magazines for inspirational words and photos. My 2011 collage has a theme: Create. That is also the word that popped into my head during a Winter Solstice meditation with Diana Lang two weeks ago. I take it to mean that I can create the life I want, and it doubles as inspiration to create art and the written word. My plan has three categories:
1. Create health & peace of mind
2. Create and maintain relationships
3. Create art
I will create a more healthy lifestyle by developing the habit of exercise at Equinox and Curves and integrating it into my daily life. I have chosen the 10,000 Steps walking program and I have my spiffy new pedometer to track my daily steps. I have realized that if I walk (either on the treadmill or an extended walk with Charlie, my dog) for an hour, I can rack up the steps fairly easily. I am also committing to yoga at least twice a week. This also helps with creating peace of mind, but is definitely a good strength training routine as well. I will continue with resistance training to help build bone strength. The big news is my recent re-acquaintance with Weight Watchers. I am attending weekly meetings and making daily use of eTools to track my food. I have come to the conclusion that tracking creates the discipline I need to succeed. I am proud to say that In the past month I have really become mindful of the food I eat and am excited with the 5 lb. weight loss!
I will create peace of mind by tracking my spending and saving habits too, and will continue my money education and devotion to becoming money-wise. By tracking my habits on mint.com I will have a realistic visual of where my money is going and how I can gain control even in these tough economic times, taking into account furlough days and the cutbacks imposed on education by lack of State funding.
I am open to creating new friendships and devoted to maintaining those I have. I will continue to nurture the friends and family I am blessed to have in my life presently and appreciate these relationships. I am taking a positive path to relationships and plan to focus on positive aspects of relationships while attempting to eliminate gossip and other negative habits that are detrimental to honest friendships. I will practice patience, support and giving.
I will create art by focusing on my writing through my classes in the UCLA Writers Program, this blog, a daily 2-minute journal and various writing experiences. I will expand my creative experiences through any art form that becomes available and will be open to opportunities to express myself through music, art and crafts.
2011 is a blank slate, a new beginning and a chance to “Embrace the art of living.” My vision is clear and my plan is in place. Feel free to share your plan for the New Year! May it be a truly happy year for us all.
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Things were happening... and I remember there was music playing.
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reflections on hidden enlightenments
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reflections on hidden enlightenments