For several years I have tossed around the idea of writing a blog but talked myself out of it time and time again. I have no time to blog. Who would care about what I had to say anyway? What if I’m not funny or witty? What makes me think my words are relevant or good enough to put out there for other people to learn from? Bottom line is, I was scared. I was scared to count, to matter, to effect ch2531cc64b2ea017f94e6c2998b93d4f6ange, to affect people’s lives. The past two years have seen major upheaval in my life: divorce, single parenting, riding the coattails of a nervous break down at times, great sadness and loss, great joy, great love, discovering myself, growing, marriage, and a sense of hope that I have never felt before. All of these experiences got me thinking that maybe I DO have something to say that would make the lives of others better in some small way.

This blog will be an eclectic mix of all sorts of topics. I have very diverse interests and love to learn about new things. My family and I are learning about homesteading and re-purposing all sorts of items. We are trying to eat healthier, get more exercise, learn about personal growth, get organized, and since we are a blended family, we’re learning to get along despite many challenges that have arisen. So these will all be topics I plan to write about and learn about with my readers.

One thing you will not see me do is pretend that my life is perfect. That I am the perfect Wife. The perfect Mother. The perfect Daughter. The perfect ANYTHING. This blog is intended for everyone, but I think that women, as a whole, tend to be WAY too hard on ourselves and compare ourselves to Susie Homemaker down the street. I believe this puts an extreme burden on us in a world where we are already overwhelmed with responsibilities and expectations. I have a news flash for all of you: REAL LIFE IS MESSY! I have been on the competition wheel and I realized that I just don’t fit.  I have learned that is okay and I am not less of a woman for admitting so!

So welcome aboard! It’s going to be an exciting voyage!

How Getting Rid of the Microwave Changed Our Lives!

“Mom! Where is the microwave?!?!”

Ah, it had been less than an hour since I had stowed it away in the cupboard and my 10 year-old daughter was the first to notice the change.

“I pNo microut it up.” I told her

“How are we going to heat things up??” She was clearly shocked by the news.

“We will use the stove. We don’t need a microwave. Our food will be healthier for us.” I knew she was going to be a hard sell.

“Okay……but what if we can’t live without it?”

“We can and we will.”

That was one year ago.

My family started on this journey of better eating and becoming more self-sustaining roughly around the time I exiled the microwave. We are trying to transition to a more off-the-grid lifestyle. This has included making our own bread from scratch, building a chicken coop and raising chickens, reusing things rather than throwing them straight out, living within our means (a huge change for most of us!), learning about where our food comes from, and how to eat better.

I’d been feeling pretty good about all the changes we had been making until it was brought to my attention that while we ARE eating better, I still use the microwave to reheat or occasionally cook our food. Sometimes we get so consumed by the fact that we’re eating better food, we forget that HOW we prepare it matters just as much.

Like many others, I was so busy with work and raising children that I had fallen victim to using the microwave far too often and not just for frozen veggies. Sometimes it was whole meals—frozen chicken parmesan and HELLO!! Spaghetti-Os!! Yes, both of those items could have been heated by using the stove but we all know there are days when we are pressed for time.

Somewhere along the way I had heard that using the microwave was “bad” for us but I didn’t really know why. There has been talk about heating plastics and the chemicals contained in them contaminating our food with cancer causing toxins and we all know that they heat things unevenly but beyond that, what are they doing to us REALLY? The “fact” that microwaves were harmful was an abstract idea. I couldn’t really see the damage or imagine the damage so getting rid of the microwave wasn’t on the top of my Get Healthy To-Do List.

There is much debate over the actual effect of microwaving on the food we eat. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states “Microwave cooking does not reduce the nutritional value of foods any more than conventional cooking.” The FDA actually says that using a microwave may, in fact, help the foods we eat to be healthier because of the quick cooking time, they retain more of their vitamins and minerals. But have you seen some of the food that comes out of a microwave?! Rock hard carrots in your frozen mixed vegetables? And are you really sure that breaded, processed chicken parmesan is going to be any healthier for you despite the dried out and overcooked edges? Though I won’t lie to you, THOSE were my favorite part of that meal!

There was a study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture that found when broccoli had been “zapped” in the microwave with a little water it lost up to 97% of its beneficial antioxidants. Steamed broccoli only lost 11% or fewer of its antioxidants. There were also reductions in phenolic compounds and glucosinolates, but mineral levels remained intact.

According to Mercola.com, a healthy living website, Swiss food scientist Dr. Hans Hertel found that microwaved food increased cholesterol levels, decreased both red and white blood cell counts, decreased hemoglobin, and produced radiolytic compounds. I believe this to be directly related to the foods we are choosing to microwave. Let’s be honest, 9 times out of 10 it is NOT healthy fare.

Some people believe the real danger is in the microwaves that are emitted from your microwave. The FDA keeps strict regulations on the amount of acceptable microwave leakage, so the likelihood of those causing harm is minimal.  The question begs to be asked though, what is acceptable leakage?!

Whether or not using a microwave decreases the nutritional value of food, I know that by banning the microwave from my kitchen, I am making healthier food choices for my family. By getting rid of the microwave, our diet was ripped open. I actually have become more aware of what is in our food. There are no more prepackaged meals in our freezer and we eat far less processed foods. It has made me slow down and think about cooking dinner rather than throwing it together at the last second. I can’t pop frozen chicken in to quickly defrost because I forgot to take it out of the freezer anymore.

Our family has gotten closer as a result. We prepare more meals together now and the kids really love it when we make “old fashioned” popcorn. You know, with oil and a pot on the stove, listening to every kernel hiss and pop against the lid. Now I am not saying that my family doesn’t eat unhealthy foods, we do and we need to be better at everything in moderation. In my opinion, some change is better than no change and you need to be realistic about the changes you make. Real and lasting change won’t happen overnight. It is a series of actions repeated over and over and sometimes OVER again! Are there any more clichés I could add here? Oh yeah, you only live once! So you might as well make it count and be healthy!

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The Eat, Pray, Love Connection

     Have you ever read a book more than once?  I have just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for the second time and I plan to read it AGAIN!  Only next time I will underline the passages that really speak to my soul.  Have you noticed that reading something at different times in your life can affect you in different ways?  The first time I read Eat, Pray, Love I connected with the Liz who was contemplating divorce because I was going through a similar situation but I was jealous of her ability to travel the world and “discover” herself.  I had two small children and no money to travel anywhere, let alone the world.  At the time it felt like getting out of my situation and running away was the only way to find myself.

      Flash forward several years and I am compelled to pick it up again.  This time I am divorced, my kids are older, and I still have no money to travel but I am open to the deeper message of the book.  I am not just reading it at face value.  I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery for quite some time but at this point in my life, I feel an urgent need to find my true path in life.  I am 35 years old and coming to terms with the fact that I get to decide what I am doing with my life.  I went from beepl2ing a child in my parent’s home to becoming a wife and then a mother without ever stopping to think about the bigger picture of my life.  I floated along with the flow and did what I thought I was supposed to do next. I am learning to be conscious for probably the very first time in my life and while it is a scary place to be, it is also a very exciting place to be!

      The spiritual journey Liz embarks on in the ‘Pray’ portion of the book, which I found most boring during my first read through, is actually what speaks to my soul the most this time around. I think it is because I am looking for something more profound this time, something to believe in, something groundbreaking.  I feel we are the creators of our own reality but that God and the Universe resides within each of us.  That is not to say I don’t believe in Fate.  I do.  I believe everything happens for a reason but it is up to us what we do with it.  We could squander the World’s riches if we are not careful.  If we are not grateful for what we have and strive to be better people each and every day then what is our purpose here on Earth?  I am certainly NO expert on psychology, spirituality, or the subconscious but I am, however, someone who has always felt there is more to this life than just what we see on the outside.  I’m not always sure exactly what that really entails and some days I have better clarity than others but I know there is something bigger than me at work in my life and I must honor that.

      Though I have been on this road for a while, I am just beginning to put real effort into my journey of self-discovery.  I’m making sure to put my seat belt on because based on what I have learned and been through so far, it WILL be a bumpy ride.  Chances are I won’t like everything I see along the way and there will be detours, but in the end it will all be worth it.  I will have lived a fuller, happier, more authentic life.  What could be better than that?

      So how can I fulfill the need to “find myself” if I can’t travel to far off and exotic locales?  I’ve realized I can explore the depths of me and see what I am really made of each and every day.  I can seek education at every possible chance and take better care of myself, both physically and mentally.  I can do more of what makes me happy and build a solid foundation for the rest of my life.  I’ve got a lot of years ahead of me and who knows, perhaps one day I will be able to search for everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia!

      I encourage you to pick up a book that has inspired you in the past, reread it, and see how it applies to your life today. I can’t wait to see how Eat, Pray, Love reaches me when I read it again!