Thursday, August 30, 2012

10 Lessons on the Beach

I'm starting to think retirement and how fun it will be to become a "snowbird" for much of the winter. (In the past my hubby and I traveled to Florida in February for a short respite from our Minnesota winter.) While some may head toward the warmth of Arizona and the desert, my heart always yearns to be by the ocean. These 10 metaphors almost seem to be written just for me...

10 Lessons on the Beach

This summer, let the ocean teach you about God.
By Christopher and Karen Bellitto

1. Sunrise, sunset, surf
The sunrise and sunset offshore are dependable and steady, just like God’s love in our lives. The surf itself can represent God’s steady presence in our lives. He is always there whether the waves are big or small. Sometimes you can’t even see the waves due to fog or darkness, but you can always hear them. God is like that: Even if we are wondering where God might be in our lives during times that we’re sure he’s not there—the divine presence is regular, steady, even spectacular at times.

2. Tides
Tides change, yet they are constant. They will exist, forming the shoreline, much in the same way that God forms and shapes us throughout the times of our lives. Waves are relentless—they just keep coming—which reminds us of the way God keeps surrounding us with love, even when we resist. Sometimes we think God hits us with more than we can handle, but as the shore is resilient, so are we. How many times have we fought the tide, literally tried to swim against it, only to find that when we give in, it’s a much smoother ride? We know how powerful the water can be, especially when we’re in it. We want to be in charge and go in a certain direction. Fighting the undertow or waves is only a waste of energy. The water is actually more help when we give in and let it lead. We’ve got to let go and let God take us where he wants us to be. Often, it’s a much more interesting place, especially since God knows better what’s good for us.

3. Water
As the surf represents God’s presence, the water itself is his love. It is calm underneath at all times even if the surface is stormy. Life will continue to go on steadily and God will always be there if we know where to look. Even in the deepest parts of the ocean where it is darker than night, there is life. Where we think there is blackness and death, we are actually surrounded by God’s love. We’re not alone.

4. Shells
Shells are God’s gifts to us, treasures to find and share with others. Shells can represent our unique God-given talents and gifts. Scallop shells, so small yet plentiful on most beaches, bring us joy in their varied colors and delicacy. It’s as though we can’t have too many, despite their abundance. Some of our talents may look much like those others possess, but we each have our own shading, shape and size. Our talents, however plentiful, deserve to be held up, delighted in and treasured—just as we do on the beach. Conch shells are rarely found intact on most beaches. We’re more likely to buy them at an oceanfront souvenir shop. To find one requires deep water and diving skills. Going out into deep water is necessary for finding some personal, hidden talents as well. It feels risky to express our individuality sometimes. But a conch holds the sound of the ocean, the rush of God’s breath, inside. Some talents are like that: rare, beautiful, hard to find, challenging to express, but well worth the risk of diving inward and revealing the treasure.

5. Rocks
The rocks along the shore can hurt our feet but eventually make the soles of our feet stronger, more able to endure. Such are the tests in our lives that God knows we can get through. The first day on the beach we hesitate to go barefoot. We protect ourselves. But to experience fully the ocean of life, we have to take off our shoes and leave a mark on the sand, even though the rocks leave their mark on us as well.

6. Dunes
The dunes that protect the shore are like family and friends protecting us from wearing down in the elements. Many beachfront properties have had to rebuild dunes mistakenly obliterated by developers. We need cushions from the power of ocean winds and tides. We can’t bulldoze our way ahead, without concern for the people around us. We need them—and we are dunes for them as well.

7. Gear
Too often, we want to be in charge of the journey and we fight God’s guidance. When our family goes to the beach, we usually pack for the duration with coolers, umbrellas, chairs, sunscreen, refreshments, towels and books to read. But we’ve found that all this gear can be a burden—to pack, to haul, to set up and to guard. Sometimes, the less you bring the more you enjoy. That’s how it is when you are open and welcoming to God and God’s inspiration in your life. You can get along without so much stuff. You can be free.

8. Breeze
The sun at the beach can be very hot and can burn us if we’re not careful. God is in the cool breeze and refreshing spray of water. We need the cool respite to survive on the beach. We also need to be alert to God’s whisper in the breeze within our lives, sometimes so full of turmoil and pain. Sometimes we have to turn just so, to catch the breeze. We need to pay attention, to seek out what will cool and refresh us.

9. Space
As much as we’ve learned about God’s very personal relationship with us at the beach, we’ve also learned to share that space. Other people with their radios, blankets and beach balls can crowd in on our carefully marked-out turf. We’re sometimes jealous and selfish of the attention and blessings and gifts God gives to other people. But God is infinite. There’s plenty to go around. The immensity of the ocean and the expanse of the shoreline manifest abundance, not limits or borders.

10. Lighthouses
  Lighthouses teach as well. Not every shoreline has a lighthouse, but those that do are beacons for anyone who is at sea. God is a beacon in our lives, the steady light that always comes around again. When God’s light is not on us, it’s no doubt on other people. Sometimes we forget that there are others who need God’s help more than we do. When that happens, we’ve got to be patient and generous. Maybe we can say a prayer for those people who are receiving the lighthouse beacon when it’s not on us. It’s a good time to remember that we’re in the light often enough to be guided toward our destination.

The ocean is full of power and majesty, as is God in the divine, infinite wisdom. Enjoy the view.
Remember the metaphors. Delight in the ocean, God’s pulsating and abundant fullness.

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Dr. Christopher Bellitto is an assistant professor of Church history at the Institute of Religious Studies and St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, New York. He is the author of Lost and Found Catholics : Voices of Vatican II, published by St. Anthony Messenger Press. Karen Bellitto, C.S.W., his wife, is a social worker at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. She and her husband contributed their perspective on the October 1995 papal visit to New York in the December 1995 issue of St. Anthony Messenger.
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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cleavage Etiquette

I've been seeing a few articles about this and it got me thinking. My hubby used to work in an office of mostly women. Often he would come home complaining of how uncomfortable he felt when he had conversations with some of them. With very low cut tops and lots of cleavage showing he just wasn't sure where to look. (!) Oddly enough his office had a dress code about jeans but none about cleavage coverage.

I have at times felt a little uncomfortable myself. Several times in my school we have had subs come in that had a little too much chest showing. I'm thinking that when they go into a 5th or 6th grade classroom the students have to notice. We've had student teachers that have worn very tight, low cut tops. Our principal is a fellow and he is not the kind of guy to address this. (and to be honest, I'm not sure how I would either.)

Yesterday I was on a tour with a small group of people. Over half of the women (and they were all different ages) had major amounts of cleavage showing. Is this the norm? Am I a prude to think that the girls should be a little more covered? Most of the boobs I've seen haven't been all that pretty.

The current issue of Ladies Home Journal has an article about cleavage and how low you can go. They say that showing lots of cleavage at the office sends a message that you aren't serious about your work. I don't know if that's true but showing your boobs might be sending a message you don't necessarily want to send. There are also some tips about how to protect yourself from overexposing yourself. (You wouldn't think looking in the mirror would have to be listed would you?)

post signatureI enjoyed reading the latest blog post on Inspired by Family Magazine . Mari says "the key to feeling attractive is self-confidence-- it’s not wearing clothes that leave very little to the imagination."  Mari also gives some very easy and practical tips on how to check your modesty. She says that the Fashion Industry is going to help us out by providing clothing that covers a little more. The blog gives an example of a clothing line that features modest but stylish clothes called Mikarose.

So what's your opinion? Do you share your wares or are you keeping your girls undercover? Should we be concerned with keeping our cleavage (that hollow between your breasts) covered up?

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Running the Great River Ragnar

The Starting Line.

For those of you who don't know what a Ragnar race is I'll explain. My team of 12 ladies ran from Winona to Minneapolis, MN this past weekend.(198.5 miles) In a Ragnar your team is split into two vans. Someone from the team is always running--day or night. Each person runs a total of three legs. You get very little sleep and eat a lot of bagels and peanut butter!

Every team has a name. Ours was "Comin' in Hot".

Since almost every team has some sort of white van everyone decorates theirs. We learned from last year that it's hard to recognize your own van in the dark so we brought along battery-operated Christmas lights. It was easy to spot our van!

Pam smiling as she's starting to run up her first hill.

Since I'm the oldest I got to have the shortest legs. My first leg was 5.3 miles and pretty flat. An easy run. Along my way through a small town three very little boys were cheering the runners as we passed by. So cute! Further along a family had made a sort of tunnel in their ditch using American Flags attached to a fence on either side. (kind of hard to describe). It was probably a tenth of a mile and really fun to run through there. The other gals in my van had very long runs with hills that just wouldn't quit!

My second leg was at night. We wear reflective vests, a blinking tail light and a headlight. It is a totally different experience running at night in a place you are not familiar with. My run was only 3.3 miles so it was very pleasant. My other teammates ran steep hills and on dusty gravel roads. I have nothing but the deepest respect for their running abilities.
My daugher and me posing by another team member's "one mile to go" sign. We were both done at this point.

Another team trying to get a little sleep.

We did manage to nap a little in the afternoon in a park while the other van did their running. After our night runs we were able to shower at a middle school and sleep in their gym. We were one of the first vans to get there so the gym wasn't crowded. Of course lots more people joined us. I have never heard so many different kinds of snoring in my life! I had never slept on a gym floor before. I found out just how hard that wooden floor is.(Can you guess how much sleep I got?)Also when I woke up I found another runner had put her sleeping bag right between my daughter and me.
My daugher and me posing by another team member's "one mile to go" sign. We were both done at this point.
The last leg for me was another shorty. 3.1 miles on a trail through woods. The only tough part was a hill at the very end. Again, my teammates had long runs with lots of hills. You can only imagine how good it felt to be done that morning! (We all loved the "one mile to go" sign!)

  Comin' in Hot with our medals at the Finish Line.

My team of twelve incredible gals included many ages, abilities and experience. This was my second Ragnar but for some it was their first. Many of us are looking ahead to next year and others are saying "ask me in six months". We all found the strength we needed to tackle long miles and nasty hills while running on little sleep. It was a challenge but a joy to find out that we had the physical and mental stamina to see it all the way through. We supported each other and that made all the difference. There was always someone cheering for us. The power of the female carried us all 198.5 miles!

I know that next year I will be another year older. I don't know if my body will be ready to do another Ragnar next year. I don't know if the other gals will want to let me have the shortest miles again. It was such an incredible experience I'm hoping I can be there. If not, I will be with them all in spirit. (and...there are many other Ragnars across the country. Doesn't running through the Napa Valley sound fun?) post signature
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Friday, August 17, 2012

How To Get Softer Skin in Five Minutes a Day

If you’ve ever wanted softer skin (and who hasn’t!) try this simple method to improve your skin tone. I’ve started doing it every morning and it feels great! It’s called “Dry Brushing” because you are brushing your skin dry, usually before a bath or shower.       

Giving your body a firm brush all over makes the skin glow by removing the top dull, dead layer of skin and encouraging new cells to regenerate. The gentle massaging motion of the bristles also has a beneficial effect on areas of cellulite and it is an effective treatment for helping eliminate toxins from the body.

The technique is a simple one, and you only need a body brush with natural bristles, such as those of goat or boar, or a loofah. You will need a brush with a handle so that you can reach all the parts of your back. (You need a much softer brush for the face. I've got one but I don't like the feel of brushing my face that much. Some people skip brushing their face.)

Skin brushing is carried out on dry skin. Start at the soles of your feet and work upwards, brushing the legs, then buttocks, your arms, then on to the chest and stomach, your back and finally the face. Brush more gently where the skin is thinnest and always brush towards the heart. Don’t brush any areas of broken skin or rash.

Brushing your whole body in this way will take you between three and five minutes, depending on how many strokes you give to each area. Try to keep a rhythm going and brush for up to five minutes every day and preferably immediately before you have a bath or shower so that the dead cells are washed away.

Skin brushing is best done in the morning as the acceleration of blood flow has quite an invigorating effect. You should be able to see the difference in your skin after just a few sessions - it will become very soft and develop an attractive rosy glow.

A good follow-up for after your shower is Gathered From The Garden's Satin and Silk Shea Butter Lotion. It’s like a body butter and is SO moisturizing!  I like to use it after shaving too.

Have you tried dry brushing?  
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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Monkeying Around

I have been having so much fun with my new Canon macro lens. I originally bought it to use when we went to visit my brand new grandson. I wanted to get close up pictures of his little toes, ears, fingers, etc. Now that I'm back home I've been using it to snap pics of flowers in my gardens and a beautiful public garden in our city called Clemens Garden. So here are a few of the pictures that I took that have been enhanced using Picmonkey. ( I actually have a free trial of Photoshop Elements 10 right now but I'm finding it to be  rather complicated.)

Have you tried Picmonkey or have you found another photo editing tool?

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Six Recipes for National S'mores Day!

Another reason to celebrate with s'mores! There is actually a special day for them and today's the day! So here are some awesome recipes for many kinds of s'mores....

 From Woman's Day---Frozen S'mores.

From Endless Simmer---S'mores Bars

From Tastebook ---S'mores Dip

From Boboli--S'mores Pizza

From My Baking Addiction---S'mores Whoopie Pies

And my favorite...From  Cooking Classy--S'mores Bites  

What's your favorite way to eat a S'more?
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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Healthy, not Hungry

We have an friend who is always looking for the perfect diet. I think she has tried every one! But I think her biggest downfall is that she is still hungry so in the end she tends to binge a little and the weight comes back. Is it possible to cut calories and not feel hungry?

Here are some easy ways to eat healthier and trim the calories:

* Fill your plate with produce. Actually half your plate should be produce. You can pretty much eat as many veggies as you want (well,not potatoes or corn)but the more colorful ones like beans, carrots, broccoli and peppers.

*Eat smaller portions. Most restaurant portions are way more than we need to eat at one sitting. I usually take half of my meal home. (great left-overs)Reading nutrition labels will help you figure out portion sizes too.

*Watch the sugar. (my downfall!) I have pretty much given up soda except for the rare occasion when I am out and might have a drink. (malibu and coke with a lime--just one!) Sports drinks, sodas and energy drinks don't fill you up and are loaded with sugar. A study done at John Hopkins University found that people actually lost more weight by eliminating calories from their beverages than their food.

*Start your meal with a salad or soup. However, you can't load your salad up with a high calorie dressing. Also stay away from creamy soups usually made with cream or butter. Eating salad or soup will help fill you up before your main course arrives.

*Eat more protein. This will help you feel full longer. Healthy sources of protein are chicken, tuna, soybeans,legumes and very lean meat. Keep your portion size to about 3 oz.

*Make your own snacks. Easy and cheaper than buying snack packs. Fill up baggies with a trail mix of nuts, dried fruit (look for the sugar content--some are very high) and dark chocolate chips. If you make your own granola you can cut the sugar way back by using honey. Cut-up veggies are always a great snack too.

Healthy eating alone won't shed those pounds but it's a great start. Add in some exercise and you can maintain a healthy body weight.
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I am going to have to send my niece Kendra over to The Yellow Sandbox to get The Ultimate Hairstyle Handbook. It looks like just the ticket for her and her long hair! I love the braids.
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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Acne Advice

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), acne is the most common skin disorders in the United States, affecting 40–50 million Americans at one time. Acne (acne vulgaris, common acne) is not just a problem for teenagers; it can affect people from ages 10 through 40. It is not unusual for women, in particular, to develop acne in their mid- to late-20s, even if they have not had breakouts in years (or ever). On the positive side, those few individuals who have acne into their 40s may well grow out of it.

Some common misconceptions:
*Acne can simply be washed away. Over-washing will further irritate the skin.

  *Food: Parents often tell teens to avoid pizza, greasy and fried foods, and junk food. While these foods may not be good for overall health, they don't cause acne or make it worse. Although some recent studies have implicated milk and dairy products in aggravating acne, these findings are far from established.  **see Dr. Mockros’ advice…

*Pimples should be squeezed. Picking and squeezing pustules will only make acne worse because picking can spread acne-causing bacteria and squeezing can result in pushing infected material deeper into the skin.

* Many people have read that Tea Tree is a beneficial essential oil for acne, so they rub it all over the face. This essentially burns the skin. It is okay to dab one drop with a Q-tip right onto a blackhead or a whitehead. Use very sparingly!

Help for acne:

*Washing once or twice a day with a mild cleansing bar or liquid will keep the skin clean and minimize sensitivity and irritation. Gathered From The Garden's Love My Face Wash is an all-natural wash that can be formulated for oily or problem skin. It does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate.
  * Use a gentle astringent/toner to wipe away oil. Gathered’s Facial Toner is very mild.

*Steaming and "deep-cleaning" pores is useful, both alone and in addition to medical treatment, especially for people with "whiteheads" or "blackheads." Gathered has a wonderful Facial Steam consisting of dried lavender, calendula and chamomile.

* Use warm compresses to help draw out the pustules, as well as to calm down the redness of pimples. When blackheads or whiteheads are picked or squeezed the skin can become red and irritated. To prepare a hot compress, fill the sink or a basin with warm water, then drop in a few drops of lavender essential oil. Swish the oil around in the water, then dip a clean washcloth into the water, and hold it on the face for a few minutes. Repeat several times. This can be done in the evening a few times a week. (using more than 2-3 drops in the water can end up burning the skin so less is better than more)

* Stress can make hormones flare up also. To help combat stress, you can take baths with calming oils added like Lavender. Adding 5-6 drops of an essential oil is enough. Swish it around in your bath water before entering the tub.

*Aromatherapy massage is also a wonderful stress reliever. Many adults have experienced the healing of massage. For teens it can be a very beneficial therapy on a lot of levels too. It helps them identify what a relaxed state actually feels like, so that they can try to recreate that state whenever stress is starting to build up. It increases their body awareness. Yoga is another beneficial therapy to try for combating stress.

* *Here is some good advice from Dr. Lacie Mockros (Minser Chiropractic Clinic): “When treating acne you need to look at two places, the skin itself--keeping the skin free of bacteria, and treating the gut. Most often we talk about diet and cleaning that up. We discuss avoiding certain triggers such as chocolate, refined grains, foods that can cause sensitivities (eggs, soy, peanut, milk and potato). To also work on cleaning up the gut we would recommend the good bacteria (lactobacillus acidophilus). Starting an Omega-3 FA is also very beneficial to help the skin heal and reduce inflammation. It is said in Eastern Medicine that the skin reflects the gut, if your insides are full of junk your skin will be too!” 

Thanks, Dr. Mockros!
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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Puffy Headband Braid

My niece Kendra has been wearing her hair in some really cute braids that look something like a headband. It looks so cute on her! I was thinking how cute it would look on my granddaughter but didn't have any idea how to make a headband braid. (Do you remember when we thought frenchbraiding was cool?)

So I was delighted to find a website called Girly Do Hairstyles that has adorable"girly" hairstyle pictures and tutorials.I can't wait to see if my granddaughter will let me try these on her hair. Just look at a couple of the cute styles. There is even a post on doll hair restoration.

                                                                                            Isn't she cute?

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