Category Archives: motivation

The Story in my Salad Bowl

There is a store here in Germany called Globus.  It’s equivalent to a U.S. Wal Mart, only much nicer.

It’s huge.  It’s intimidating.  Everything is written in German (of course) so most of the time I’m not totally sure of what I am buying.  It was the very first German grocery store I went to and the whole experience was terrifying.  (Seriously.  No joke.)

BUT, I will say they have a fabulous salad bar.  When my MIL said she wanted to go to Globus to get some authentic German Christmas decorations and ornaments – I immediately thought- salad bar!  Let’s go!

At Globus, I filled a plastic container with all kinds of colorful, fresh veggies – tri-colored bell peppers, jade green lettuce, mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots, sprouts and tuna fish.

Then, I made my way to the other side of the salad bar where there was antipasto- stuffed olives, stuffed tomatoes, stuffed peppers, stuffed grape leaves, artichoke hearts and various kinds of  cheeses lying in a pool of olive oil and spices.

With some tongs, I plucked a few of each of these mouth-watering goodies and plopped them on top of my salad.

Then I weighed my container on the scale located at the end of the salad bar, printed out the sticker that said how much I owed and proceeded to the check out line.

As I got to the front of the kasse (checkout), I put all of my items on the black belt.  When the middle-aged lady behind the counter picked up my container of salad, she frowned, looking at me.

In German, she said, “This is not all salad.  Some of this is antipasto.  They are supposed to be separate.”  She shook her head.  “They are different prices.”  She kept shaking her head as she rang up the rest of my items.

And, of course, my daughter, who was standing right next to me, kept asking me questions like, “What’s going on?  What happened?   What is she saying?”

Suddenly, I lost my appetite for my beautiful salad.

I didn’t know those two things were different prices!  I didn’t know they needed to be separated into different containers.

And, yet again, I felt like a stupid American in a foreign country who doesn’t know the rules and just got put in her place by a serious-looking German woman.

(On a positive side note- I did understand everything she was saying in German so at least my German is getting better!)

After I checked out and met my husband in the play area where he was hanging out with our 2 boys, I told him what happened.

He just shook his head and smirked.

“And she didn’t give me any stickers for the kids.”  They typically give a packet of stickers out to the kids.  I put my hands on my hips.  “Why didn’t she give us any stickers?”

He kind of half-smiled and said, “Well, you did kind of piss her off…”

Now, this is just a little thing that happened.  No big deal, right?

But, the thing is, when little things like this start piling up (which they have been doing since we moved here 3 months ago), it starts to get VERY frustrating.  It starts to wear on you.

Will I ever figure this stuff out?  Will I ever be able to go to a German grocery store and just have a “normal” shopping experience?

The good news is, I am not the only one who has had experiences like this.  In fact, I’ve talked to many, many fellow military spouses and here is what they have said:

  • Globus IS super terrifying
  • it takes 6 months to a year to get adjusted to everything here
  • they ALL have stories like this

Here are some things that I know:

  • it will get easier
  • it’s not always going to be like this
  • I am strong enough to handle this

On top of the salad bar incident, there was the beer debacle.

I’ll have myself a German beer every now and then.  After all – they are delicious!

Globus has a getrankemarkt (basically a drink market) where there are rows and rows of different beers – dark, light, hoppy, bitter, sweet – and wine – red, white, rose, blush, sweet, dry – and champagne.

Having recovered from being put in my place by the lady at the checkout counter, I wanted to check and see if they had any pumpkin beer before we left (because that is my ABSOLUTE favorite).

I wandered the aisles, carrying my infamous salad container in my hand.  I didn’t see any pumpkin beer.

I proceeded to leave…and got stopped by the lady at the checkout area of the getrankemarkt (there was only one way out).

She said, in German, “Do you need to pay for that?”

I shook my head.  “No,” I replied.  “I already paid for it.”  (This, I said in broken German because I wasn’t totally sure how to say it.)

She raised her eyebrows.  “Do you have the receipt?”

“Nein.  Meine mann hat die rezept.”  (No.  My husband has it.)

And yet again, I got the “head shake” for the second time that day.

She let me go, however, and you can be sure I high-tailed it out of there!

Here’s the thing – I can give up OR I can keep trying.

I can hide in my house, only go shopping on the American base and pretend like we are not in a foreign country…OR…I can embrace this.

I can learn the lessons.  And not repeat the same mistakes.

And, I am happy to say, that I did go to Globus again after this incident and I DID put the salad in a separate container from the anti-pasto and I did NOT have any issues!

My message, to you today than, is this:  Live your life.  Make mistakes.  Laugh at yourself.  Learn.  And move on.

Lastly, I wanted to share some GREAT recipes for winter salads with you!

Roasted Yam and Kale Salad

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/217266/roasted-yam-and-kale-salad/?internalSource=streams&referringId=17229&referringContentType=recipe%20hub&clickId=st_recipes_mades

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

 

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/230055/warm-brussels-sprout-salad-with-hazelnuts-and-cranberries/?internalSource=streams&referringId=17229&referringContentType=recipe%20hub&clickId=st_trending_s

I hope you enjoy!!!!

And don’t forget – share this post on your social media sites and with all of your friends!

 

 

 

 

 

The Good, The Bad and The Change

So…here’s the deal…I’m going through some changes right now – some major and some not so major…

Big Change Numero Uno,  is, of course, moving to another country.  That, in and of itself, has been more stressful than I expected it to be.   And, on top of that, I am often left alone to take care of my three small children (did I mention I was in a foreign country and have only been in that country for 3 months?) while my husband travels regularly.

 

The emotional upheaval of it all has been so much more than I bargained for.  However, here I am, still standing (or sitting as the case may be).  I’m alive.  I’m breathing.  I’m healthy.  My family is healthy.

Really and truly – there is nothing more important in the entire world.

When change occurs – and if you are alive, there’s no avoiding it – you have two options:

  1.  Embrace it
  2. Run like hell

I’m not going to lie – option number 2 is often much more appealing-but over the years, as I’ve progressed through this health and fitness journey, I’ve come to realize that change is NECESSARY.

Change is what PUSHES you.  It’s what CHALLENGES you.  It’s what makes you BETTER.

It is NOT easy.  No.

It’s NEVER easy.

BUT…if you can be strong enough to endure the storm (and I know YOU are), then the wind and the rain will eventually dry up and the sun will shine above you – a bright, golden orb in the clear, blue sky.

To be honest, right now, I am in the midst of the storm.  The waves are thrashing.  The wind is howling and I can’t see five feet in front of me.  The things we take for granted back home – like grocery shopping, buying lights for the Christmas tree, recycling and getting gas – can be some of the most frustrating processes here.

I had breakfast (at Ikea- quite the hip thing to do here it seems) with a group of other moms and one mom put it best when she said:

“There is nothing more humbling than moving to a foreign country.”

Will things get better?

Absolutely.

Do things suck right now?

Kind of.

Do I have faith and hope that eventually, some day, I will like it here?

Yes.

So…along with these personal changes that I’m going through…I am going to be making some changes to this blog.

I am SUPER excited about these…

Here’s what you can expect:

  • A Day in the Life posts
  • More recipes that are easy, healthy (of course) and family friendly
  • More health and fitness tips
  • A new travel section – filled with funny stories plus tips on how to stay on track while traveling plus lessons learned when traveling with kids and so much more
  • Ideas for activities to do with the kids during the winter months
  • Motivational pieces
  • Inspiration and self-esteem building
  • My workouts

Basically, the bottom line is this: I will be sharing more of my day to day life with you so you can get ideas on how to live a healthy, well-rounded life yourself.  Sure, I can sit here and TELL you what to do and give you a step-by-step list…or…I can SHOW you.

When, you might ask, will these changes take place?

January 2018!!!!

New year.  New blog.  New me.  New you.

And, in honor of all of these changes, here is a new recipe I tried that my whole entire family loved (including my in-laws)!

Almond Butter Blossoms

Almond Butter Blossom Cookies

 
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 20 small cookies

Ingredients

Cookies:

Chocolate drops:

  • 2 oz 4 TBS unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 TBS pure raw cocoa butter grated
  • 2 TBS pure maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

Make Chocolate Drops:

  1. Line a small baking sheet with wax paper, set aside.
  2. Melt together chocolate and cocoa butter and stir until smooth.
  3. Add maple syrup and sea salt (optional) and stir to combine.
  4. Transfer chocolate mixture to a piping bag fit with a circular tip and pipe onto your prepared baking sheet into the shapes you want.
  5. Transfer to the freezer to set. Keep frozen until they are added to the cookies.

Make the cookies:

  1. Preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together almond flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and coconut sugar. Set aside.
  3. Add almond butter, coconut oil and maple syrup to a large microwave safe bowl or medium saucepan.
  4. Melt ingredients in the microwave or on the stovetop, then stir until completely combined.
  5. Add almond milk and vanilla and stir until combined.
  6. Add dry ingredients and mix until combine and there are no lumps in the batter.
  7. Scoop the dough into 1 TBS portions, roll into balls and place on your prepared baking sheets. These cookies do not change shape much in the oven, so be sure to form them into the shapes you want.
  8. Bake in your preheated oven for 6-8 minutes or until the cookies look set and just began to crackle.

Putting it together:

  1. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, press one chocolate drop into the middle of each one.
  2. Let cookies with chocolate in the center sit on the baking pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool!
  3. Eat and enjoy!

Source: https://joyfoodsunshine.com/almond-butter-blossom-cookies/

*Recipe notes*

  • I used Hershey’s kisses (definitely makes the cookies less healthy BUT it’s 10 x easier)
  • You could also melt some dark chocolate and put dollops in the center of the cookies – a slightly healthier option
  • You could use Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips also – Much healthier and cleaner (but I can’t find any here and they are super expensive on Amazon)
  • I used peanut butter instead of almond butter (because I didn’t have any)

 

The Girl I Was

It was the summer of 2008.  My husband ame and dognd I had just gotten married two weeks prior and there I was…lying in our bed, clinging to my dog and crying my eyes out.

He had just left for a 2 week field exercise.  I wouldn’t see him for 2 weeks.  I wouldn’t talk to him for 2 weeks.  I had just moved into our apartment.  I had just moved to Killeen, Texas.  I didn’t know a single person there.  I didn’t know where anything was.

I was devastated.  Seriously.  I had no idea what to do with myself or how to occupy my time besides walking my dog and working out at the little apartment job.

I had just graduated from grad school.  I had no job.  Nothing to do.  And 2 weeks to kill before my brand new husband came back.

The days and hours loomed in front of me.  I had no idea how I was going to get through these next 2 weeks, let alone the upcoming deployment.

Now, 9 years later, 3 deployments later, here I am, in a foreign country with three little kids, all under the age of 7.

And he is gone.  Only for 5 days this time but still…(did I mention that we just got to this foreign country 7 weeks ago?)

Here are the things, that 9 years later, still haven’t changed:

  • I doubt myself…every time he leaves.  Whether it’s for 5 days or 5 weeks.  I doubt whether I can do this…whether I’m strong enough.
  • How will I be able to take care of these three kids by myself?  Get them dressed, fed, to school, to their activities, to bed?
  • I miss him.
  • I can’t wait until he gets back

Here are the things, that 9 years later, have changed:

  • Even though doubt creeps in every…single…time…I KNOW, deep down, that I AM strong enough to do this.
  • That girl who laid in bed and cried her eyes out is gone (although, I will admit, that as I laid in bed that first night in our new house in this strange village, I slept with all the lights on because I was scared)
  • I KNOW that I have all the tools and skills I need to get through this.
  • I know that I am stronger than I give myself credit for.
  • I know, that with time, it will get easier

nobody

I am no longer the girl who can’t even deal with getting books for her college classes without having to call her mom and ask her for help

(Really.  That happened.)

Not to blow my own horn or anything…but I have come a LONG way.  I am still a work in progress.  I still have a long way to go…BUT…I can say, that I am, without a doubt, PROUD of how hard I have worked to be who I am today.

Who do YOU want to be?  What do you need to do to get there?

And…what are you waiting for?!??!!!!

Here are a few exercises to help you out:

reasons

self esteem journal

goals

 

 

Langsam, Bitte

Ever since we found out we were moving to Germany, my husband and I started working on learning German.  (We have been using Duolingo – a free app and Rosetta Stone -just in case anyone is interested in learning a language).

In German, “Langsam, bitte” means: Slowly please.

This has been my mantra the past few days…ever since I took my son for his 9 month check up.  Which, by the way, it’s like I blinked and he’s already 9 months old.  How did that happen?

At the doctor’s office, I began filling out the standard questionnaire.  You know, the one where they ask about fine motor skills, communication, etc.

IMG_5090

As I sat there, with the pink clipboard in my lap, the pen in my hand, and my son smiling up at me from his car seat, I realized something.

I couldn’t answer many of the questions.

Does he look for an object if you cover it up?  I don’t know.  I’ve never tried that.

Does he use his thumb and forefinger to grab something?  I think…maybe…I’m not sure…

Does he pick up a small object with one hand?  Um…..

Does he toss a toy back and forth between his hands?  Well…I’ve never seen him do that…

Does he say words like “ma”, “ba”, “ga”?

That last one…that last question…it was like a punch in the gut…the one where I thought to myself “I can’t believe I haven’t noticed that he isn’t doing this”.

Until I read that question…until the doctor mentioned that he had some concerns about his communication skills…I had not noticed that he is so quiet.

Talk about feeling like a crap mother.

The doctor assured me that there’s no need to worry YET.  After all, he was born a month early but it is something that we need to keep an eye on.

Holy.  Shit.

It’s not so much about me being worried that he will have problems communicating (and if he does he will just get speech therapy).

It’s the fact that I haven’t been paying ATTENTION.

It’s the fact that I have been running in twenty different directions, trying to do EVERYTHING – trying to exercise daily, to eat perfectly clean, to cook healthy dinners, to get the kids signed up for after school activities, to volunteer in my daughter’s classroom, to go see the sights, to meet friends, to do laundry, to read to the kids, to get them to bed at a decent time, to finish unpacking the house, to work (I work from home, auditing charts), to go on a date with my husband, to find decent babysitters for the kids, to learn the language, to learn the socially acceptable ways to behave in a German village, to navigate the German grocery stores…I could go on and on and on.

After that doctor’s appointment I realized I need to slow WAY down.  I need to STOP worrying about the next thing that needs to be done and just PLAY with my kids at the park.  Just sing to my baby and read him books.  Hold him and take time to sit at the table and feed him, instead of shoving a cracker in his hand as we run out the door to the next activity.

stop

All that matters is that we are healthy.  We are together.  And I will figure this all out…eventually.

Langsam, bitte.

Slowly, please.

In a world where we want everything YESTERDAY, remember that life is PRECIOUS.  Life is fleeting.  Life is NOT guaranteed.

The little moments are TRULY what matter the most.

**************************************************************************

As a side note, one of the things that has helped me slow down is the Crockpot!  I throw dinner in there in the morning and it’s ready in the afternoon.  Instead of spending time in the kitchen after my daughter gets off the bus, I can spend time playing with my kids.

In case you find that you need to slow down as well, I wanted to share a few crockpot recipes from my current online accountability group that have been a hit here at my house!

Pumpkin 3 Bean Chili

Serves: 6

INGREDIENTS:

o 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

o 1 cup onion, chopped

o 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

o 3 cloves garlic minced

o 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained

o 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

o 1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

o 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin

o 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes

o 2 teaspoons chili powder

o 1.5 teaspoons cumin 1.5 teaspoons oregano

o 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

o ½ teaspoon sea salt  o 2.5 cups vegetable broth

o Toppings: Fresh cilantro Avocado Scallions

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Add oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add onion and pepper, sauté until tender.

3. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.

4. Transfer to Crockpot.

5. Add remaining ingredients to Crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4 hours.

6. Top with fresh cilantro, avocado and scallions

 

Chicken Enchiladas

10 servings, about 1 cup each

INGREDIENTS:

o 1 tsp. olive oil

o 1 medium onion, chopped

o 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

o 2 medium jalapenos, seeded and deveined, finely chopped

o 1 lb. raw ground chicken breast (or whole breast cut into strips or bitesize pieces)

o 1½ cups dry farro, rinsed

o 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed, drained

o 1 cup frozen corn o 1 (15 oz.) can diced fire roasted tomatoes (or diced tomatoes), no salt added

o 1 cup water

o 1 (10-oz.) can red enchilada sauce

o 2 Tbsp. chili powder

o 1 Tbsp. ground cumin

o 2 tsp. ground coriander

o Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)

o 1 cup shredded jack (or cheddar or Mexican blend) cheese

o 3 medium green onions, chopped

o ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until onion is soft.

3. Add garlic and jalapenos; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until jalapenos are soft.

4. Add chicken; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

5. Place chicken mixture, farro, beans, corn, tomatoes, water, enchilada sauce, chili powder, cumin, and coriander in a 3-quart slow cooker; mix well and cover. Cook on high for 3 hours, or until liquid has been absorbed, and farro is tender.

6. Remove lid and stir mixture. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Add cheese; mix well. Cover until cheese has melted.

7. Top with green onions and cilantro; serve.

*You could use brown rice if you can’t find farro

*I got already cooked, diced chicken from the refrigerated section
 

Give Up Or Give In

We have two choices:  We can either give up OR we can give in…

You may be thinking, “Um, what’s the difference?”

Stick with me, kid, and I’ll let you in on a little secret.

When you think of “giving up”, what automatically comes to mind?

give

Maybe something along the lines of –

Failing…Losing…Less than…Without…

The official definition of “giving up” is: cease making an effort, resign oneself to failure.

What about “giving in”?  What words pop into your head now?

Back down…Submit…Quit…Concede…

Here is the official definition of “giving in”: cease fighting or arguing; yield; surrender.

Both of these phrases tend to have a negative connotation BUT…if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know we aren’t about the negativity here.

What if “giving in” meant something else?

What if “giving in” meant that you were giving in to your goals, to your dreams and desires…that you were in fact surrendering to them and letting them happen (and making them happen) INSTEAD OF “giving up”.

There are a plethora of reasons people “give up” before they even begin… because it seems too hard or you don’t think you can do it or others don’t think you can do it or you don’t have time or you don’t have the money or you have kids or you work too much or you have too many obligations or you are too tired or you don’t know where to start or…I could go on but I think you get the picture.

Giving up is easy.  It’s for amateurs.  It’s for the nay-sayers.  It’s for the weak.  For the faint of heart.

It is NOT for YOU.

Giving in…that’s what YOU need to FOCUS on.

they

GIVING in to your fear…letting it engulf you…envelope you…cocoon you…because you know that if it scares the hell out of you…than that is exactly what you should be going for.

Give in to your imagination.  Picture what it will be like when you fit into those jeans or write that novel or buy the house on the beach or have the job you want or the relationship you desire.

Give in to the BIG goals.  And I mean BIG- things that you think others were meant to accomplish instead of you.  Things that you are scared to even say out loud because you’re afraid others may laugh at you.

girl

Give in to what you want…to what you can’t stop thinking about…to what keeps you up at night…

Give in to THAT.

And…when you do…there is NOTHING you can’t do.