The Golden Beauty of Silence

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18 NIV)

One of my desires is that I live in Peace and Grace with everyone. Fortunately, most of the time, I “get” this, and am able to happily walk in this as a way of life.

Sometimes, however, I’m not successful in showing neither Peace nor Grace to another human being. ‘Tis truly a pity, too. It’s not a side of me that I like. First, it’s not how I believe Our Lord would have me live, nor is it how He wants me to personify Christianity. Secondly, even though such occurrences are, thankfully, rare for me, they do stay with me for a very long time.

Forgiveness toward the other person usually comes quickly for me (or, at least, I can begin the process of forgiveness rather quickly); but forgiveness of myself happens at a much slower pace (even though I know that once I sincerely repent of any wrongdoing on my part, that Our Lord does indeed forgive me, Himself). And, it’s during the turtle neck-breaking speed of self-forgiveness that my confidence takes a serious, serious dive.

Thankfully, somewhere along the line, I will eventually remember that my confidence truly comes from who I am in Christ, and not anything that I have done or can do . . . this is a huge Praise, by the way! The journey to get to that point, however, is not always the most pleasant for me.

Interestingly, the vast majority of the time that I blow the ideal of peace with others is when I have been verbally attacked by someone. It’s not an excuse; simply a realization. I am not speaking of iron sharpening iron; that is not only essential in anyone’s life, it is also extremely beneficial. By “verbal attacks”, I am speaking of passive-aggressive digs against me and overly critical fault-finding from someone erupting in harsh, vehement explosions of degradation and blind (and often ironic) self-righteousness towards me. The latter is when I struggle the most with keeping my cool and remembering that I truly do want to live in Our Lord’s Peace, Joy and Love. I can shrug off quite a bit of the first example; but, even with those types of situations, there does come a time for me when enough is enough.

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8b)

Everyone has faults. Every. One. Fortunately, I am well aware of some of my own faults; and hopefully, I will continue to allow Our Lord to show me any behaviors and/or attitudes in me that could use some improvement or even complete reversals. Thankfully, His Blessed Grace will continue to cover me during these times, as my prayer for such revelations continue to come to even deeper fruition and my reliance upon Him will continue to guide me into better ways of relating to others; especially when one of those others decides to use verbal attacks as a way of relating to me.

Silence is golden for a reason. Bells cannot be unrung; and, likewise, words cannot be unheard. (Neither can they be unread; but I have far less “heat-of-the-moment” challenges with my written words regarding verbal attacks from others than I do with my spoken words.) My prayer is that, from henceforth, if I am verbally attacked, that I will pause for a moment to breathe deeply, pray for Our Lord’s Peace, Wisdom & Guidance and then respond accordingly to His Will, versus reacting, based on my emotions.

Tell me . . . how do YOU respond when you are verbally-attacked? Is there anything that you’d like to improve upon in this area?

May Our Lord bless you most abundantly with HIS Peace and His Joy!

Thanks for reading,

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#Food Revolution Day

Here’s a quickie . . . please consider signing this petition.

Thanks.  And Here’s to YOUR good health!
Be blessed,

Food Revolution Day / James Oliver

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Reviewing the “30 Unhealthy Foods” list on a personal level (Part TWO)

To continue on from yesterday’s post (in reviewing, on a personal level, this list) . . .

#18 – This seems like a great alternative; however it’s not GARD-friendly (the pine nuts) and, as I mentioned yesterday, nutritional yeast just isn’t my thing.  But.  Neither do I eat Alfredo sauce and other cream-based sauces.  Actually, I rarely eat sauces of any kind; save for the rare thickening of beef stock or au jus with a juiced potato or two.  I guess I just prefer a more naked fare of food  (Ironically, though, I love soups and stews; and they’re kinda distance cousins to sauces, so when you figure out why two of them are on my “yay!”  list and one of them resides on my  “meh” list, let me know.)

#19 – As a personal preference, I’d rather eat my sweet potatoes steamed, mashed and then buttered-up.  🙂  But, who knows, one day I might decide that I want some fries . . . they might make a good snack to eat while watching a movie (but certainly not while calligraphing nor studio-izing in other ways . . . but then, my studio has a “no food or drink” rule anyway, so how I eat my sweet potatoes is completely mute in regard to my studio.  There you go.)

#20 – This is a great goal to have!  However, financially, it doesn’t always line up with various budget priorities.

#21 – I’ve never had cauliflower rice, although it is on my culinary bucket list (as is a cauliflower rice pizza crust).  Regarding “real” rice (whether white, brown, red or wild), I am considering going Primal – which eschews *all* grains.  All.  Rice (whether white, brown, red, wild or any other type).  I already avoid all gluten-containing grains.  And, while I don’t eat rice that often (maybe once or twice / month), I must admit that I do so enjoy a good bowl of rice every now and then.  I also make meatloaf with rice; but just this past week, I made an awesome meatloaf packed with various veggies and no rice (nor oats nor any other type of grain filler).  I say this with complete honesty and zero modesty.  Hey, the truth’s the truth, doncha know.  But, I digress.  Returning to the possibility of going Primal (which is also a digression, but I’m ok with that), giving up rice is one consideration that has me heavily weighing whether or not I want to do that.

#22 – First . . . a couple / three years ago, Tex mentioned that he used to eat Picnic shoestring potato sticks when he was a young boy.  In that same conversation, he lamented that he hadn’t seen them in years.  A few days later, we saw a huge display of them at the grocery store.  Nirvana!  Or, reticular activation – you decide.  Anyway, into the cart went the potato sticks . . . and eventually I began eating them on a regular basis, alongside Tex, as we watched TV together.  An insidious habit, doncha know; at least for me.  Ladies and Gentlemen, it pleases me to tell y’all that I have not had a potato stick (nor similar snack) since the beginning of February . . . almost 4 months!  Yay, me!  Tex still eats them, and that’s ok; I’m no one’s food police.

Getting back to Item #22 of the list . . . I know a lot of people who love kale chips; one of my nieces being one of them.  Me?  I’d rather eat my kale steamed or use it as an ingredient in various recipes.

#23 –  I don’t eat cheese & crackers; but neither do I eat apples & nut butters.  I do love apples, but I’ve never been a fan of dipping them in stuff (e.g. nut butters, yogurt, etc.).  Besides, in following the GARD anti-seizure food protocol, the only two nuts I eat are pecans and walnuts; pecans being my favorite.  Figures.  Tex and I laugh about the fact that without even trying, I naturally gravitate to the most costly item; whatever the category is . . . the other night we were looking at pecans in bulk – $15.00 / pound!  For the ultra curious, we didn’t bring any pecans home with us.

#24 – Almonds are one of those foods that *could* be seizure triggers for those so prone.  So, since one of my goals is to remain seizure-free, I choose to not eat those tasty little nuts.  ‘Tis a pity . . . lots of grain-free recipes out there using almond meal as an ingredient.  OK, it’s not *really* a pity.  Like I said, I made a choice, and I’m quite happy with it.  🙂

#25 – I don’t consume dairy (GARD) (the only exception:  real, unsalted organic butter, and also ghee  – the casein content in both is negligible).  But, neither do I consume kefir . . .for the same reason – it doesn’t align with GARD (regarding kefir, it’s a fermented product; and ferments need to be consumed in low quantities on GARD, and I figure my daily apple cider vinegar / coconut vinegar on my salad is sufficient).

#26 – I don’t eat croutons; never did develop a taste for them.  Nut-wise, as mentioned above, pecans and walnuts are my two; and I do keep a small supply of them in the freezer – for snacking, holiday meals and even sometimes when I get really wild and crazy with my salads.

#27 – I currently have around six whole, peeled, frozen bananas in the freezer – each sealed in its own bag (of course, I don’t imagine frozen bananas would be anywhere else other than the freezer).  They’re awesome in the summer.  I defrost one for about 5 minutes,  and then blend them for whatever purposes I have in mind at that particular time.  And, oh my heart!  I introduced our two middle Heart Captors to fresh fruit smoothies last year (ages 3 and 4 at the time).  A few weeks later, it was just Bruiser Charmer Boy (3) staying with us for a couple of days; and it was SO heart-meltingly sweet to hear, “Sharmie, will you make a fwoot smootee for me, pwease.?“!  🙂

#28 – Yep, yep, yep.  Yep, even!  BTW, in the summer time, I also feed coconut oil to Lizzee and Maggie (our puppy girls).  In the colder months (when coconut oil tends to solidify), I feed them olive oil.

#29 – Because of the junk that is in commercially-made chocolate (as mentioned yesterday; soy being one of the biggest culprits – even in the “healthy” brands), I make my own chocolate, using a combination of “regular” and dark cocoa powder; and since there is no sugar nor dairy in cocoa powder, I’m fine with how I do this.

#30 – I don’t really eat cakes and cookies any longer.  The exception to that is my carrot cake that I make for Tex’s and my birthdays.  🙂  (If I do decide to go Primal, I’ll still make this fun dessert for Tex to celebrate his aging another year).

Conversely, I really think that the suggested alternative is a bit much.  Me?  I would probably just eat a piece or fruit or some nuts.  Or, even a piece of my homemade chocolate (one piece equals one teaspoon).  OR, even some raw, crunchy veggies.

This has been an interesting little experiment for me.  I didn’t read the article ahead of time; I read each separate numbered item and then responded to that particular segment, etc., etc.

SO!  What about y’all?  What do you think of this list?  How closely do you follow it?

Thanks for reading!
Y’all be blessed,

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Reviewing the “30 Unhealthy Foods” list on a personal level (Part ONE)

There’s a list I’ve seen a few times recently:   “30 Unhealthy Foods You Mistake As Healthy and Their Surprising Swaps

I thought it would be fun for me to go through the list to compare how I eat with what the list says to do.  And, since I spent all that time doing this little experiment, I thought I’d post the results here.

So, without further adieu, here’s the results, based on my current lifestyle.  Remember to refer to the link above to get the basics of the list.

#1 – I’ve never been a fan of spaghetti squash.  BUT, I do like zucchini and I want to get a veggie spiralizer so I can make zucchini noodles.

#2 – I haven’t drunk animal milk in decades; just never was my thing.  And while almond milk and hemp milk are good alternatives, they are not GARD-friendly (the anti-seizure food protocol I follow).  I do use coconut milk for a variety of things, though.  I don’t use a lot of coconut milk, but it is one of the 3 types of canned goods that we, at the Tex and Sharmie Show, put in our pantry.  (For the ultra curious, the other two canned goods are tomato products – crushed, whole and paste – and also, baby corn.  I have very high hopes that next year I’ll be able to start growing -and preserving- my own tomatoes.  And, the baby corn?  Tex uses that in his salads.  There ya go.)

#3 – Yep, yep.  I definitely don’t do soy – in any form, whatsoever.  AND, I do enjoy coconut aminoes.  In fact, Tex and I purchased a fairly large bottle of it last night when we were at Whole Foods.

#4 – I also love raw honey (and pure maple syrup, which seems to be my preference over raw honey).  Both are kept in stock in the kitchen.  And both are also used very sparingly, as I try to limit my sugar intake to mostly whole fruit sources.  But, sometimes a bit of goeey sweetness is called for – like when I make my homemade chocolate pieces (that can be made with either honey or maple syrup; my preference is the maple syrup).

#5 – I think I’ve drunk Gatorade once – about 30 years ago . . . I didn’t like it.  Moving on, I’ve read a lot of benefits related to coconut water.  Personally, I’m not wild about the taste, and the cost is high enough that it dissuades me from consistently consuming something that just doesn’t *grab* me.  I’ve not read anything regarding Organifi; and right now, it’s not something that is calling to me.  Pretty-much, I just drink water, soy-free herb teas and freshly-made veggie juices.

#6 – Yep.  I *rarely* drink coffee any longer (and when I do, it’s water-decaffed; as it has been for about 20 years now).  But.  When I do have coffee now, instead of whipping cream (not whipped cream), I just use some coconut oil.  I’ve not tried it with butter yet . . . but I’m intrigued enough that I just might . . . I do love my butter, doncha know.

#7 – And speaking of butter, I’ve been encouraging people to stop using margarine for about 2 decades now.  I use real, unsalted organic butter.  For the same purposes, I also use coconut oil or ghee (which I started making earlier this year).

#8 – As I’ve already mentioned, I don’t really eat a lot of sugary foods (except for fresh fruit and the occasional homemade chocolate chips, alluded to in #4), but I do like this “trade”.  I do occasionally crave something cinnamon-y.  A note about cinnamon – not all cinnamon is created equal.  Make sure you’re using a top-quality cinnamon free of toxins.

#9 – I haven’t tried wraps with collards (although I have tried them with various lettuce leaves).  Leaf-wrapped foods aren’t really my thing, but it is a worthy suggestion.

#10 – If I wasn’t following the GARD protocol, I’d do this.  Actually, because of GARD, I don’t eat sour cream nor yogurt.

#11 – Yep!  I have a HUGE green salad, loaded with lots of fresh veggies, most nights as part of my dinner.  Sometimes, I even have 1-2 additional salads during the day before dinner.  I used to eat my salads dry (going all the way back to the mid 80s) . . . until I read that the combo of a fat and an acid (vinegar, lemon, etc.) is actually beneficial to the digestive process of salads.  But.  I definitely *don’t* do commercial salad dressings . . . their ingredients lists read like some type of health horror show.  Around 8-9 months ago, I started sprinkling apple cider vinegar and drizzling extra virgin olive oil (on my salads, not down my shirt).  I also alternate apple cider vinegar  with coconut vinegar; both are great.

#12 – Yep, yep, yep.  In addition to the vitamins, minerals and other nutritional plusses, these greens are like a taste-explosion party in your mouth!  🙂

#13 – I don’t eat cheese any longer (GARD), but neither do I eat nutritional yeast; just a personal preference.

#14 – I don’t drink sodas.  I had never heard of the anti-anxiety drink, but I do find it interesting . . . it’s a struggle for me to maintain a healthy magnesium level.  Because of that, I take ionic magnesium every day.  Regarding the drink recipe, I think I would probably substitute the stevia with either raw honey or pure maple syrup (or better yet, forgo any sweetener at all).  Basically, I would just be adding lemon to my ionic magnesium and water.  (Why not stevia?  Simply, I don’t believe it’s healthy.)

#15 – Since I don’t consume a lot of sugar-containing foods, I’m not going to give up my bananas! (At least, not anytime soon.)  There ya go.  But, I also love avocados . . . so it’s a win / win for me.

#16 – I don’t eat granola; but neither do I eat oats (GARD protocol).

#17 – I don’t eat ANYTHING from McDonald’s.  Period.  Actually, I don’t eat from any fast food restaurant (but, especially not from The Golden Arches).  I prefer real food.  Whole food.  Food that’s prepared from scratch and doesn’t involve hydrogenated grease and/or a microwave to prepare.  Can you tell how I feel about this?  Ha!  I do love eggs, and veggie scrambles are a wonderful thing, doncha know.

NOTE:  I  decided to write this in two parts; mainly because this was a spur-of-the-moment activity for me (and I really should be working on another project right now), and also because my computer is lagging terribly behind . . . . I think it would benefit from a good internal cleaning.  (Plus, at over a thousand words, this is long enough already!  Whew!  Can y’all tell that healthy eating is a passion with me?!  Ha!)  Part Two will be posted tomorrow.

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Reintroduction and Simplifying Online Life

Oh My Goodness!  Here we are five months into 2015, and this is my first post for this year.  Part of that is due to my taking a couple of months off from “online”; part of that is due to working to catch up with some offline projects (which is part of why I took a hiatus from the web of world wideness in the first place).

In the meantime, life and time does march on, doesn’t it?  Hopefully, it hasn’t been marching across my face (as Truvy has so eloquently said that it does).

I’ve been visiting various of my friends’ walls this weekend, over in the land of Faces . . . “visiting” because back in February when I began my break from the online world, I unfollowed everyone in my friends’ list.  Not unfriended them; just unfollowed.  That way, when the time(s) came when I would open Facebook – almost by rote – nothing would appear in my newsfeed . . . and I would, once again, be reminded and encouraged of my self-imposed hibernation from the virtual world.

I felt this decision brewing for a couple of months; but, at first, I couldn’t identify it; not what it was nor even its source.  Nutshelling it, things simply seemed chaotic and “too much”.  My focus and concentration was nil, and I found myself feeling quite jumbled throughout the day.  I suspected a large part of this could be attributed to the amount of time I was spending socializing in the online medias to which I’m connected.

A few days before I decided to take these drastic measures, I read an article (online, no less – the irony does not escape me) regarding the subtle dangers of immersing oneself so much into social media.  I do not remember who wrote the article, the name of the article nor even where I saw it.  There ya go.  But.  The words of the article resonated deeply with me.

At one point, the author mentioned how quickly our brains are required to adapt to the various posts that we see as we’re perusing our Facebook newsfeeds.  Think of it:  because of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc., in mere seconds and simply by scrolling down through our newsfeeds and reading our friends’ posts and tweets or viewing their pins,  we can introduce ourselves to  a wide variety of emotions, opinions and news; some of which are quite extreme in and of themselves,  Sensory overload, if you will.  The author also offered scientific tests that show how this truly does affect our grey matter.  The clincher for me was when he listed how all of this manifests outwardly . . . inability to concentrate, unexplained irritability or other unpleasant emotions seemingly coming from nowhere, etc., etc.  I was nailed.  He was writing about me.  The dirty dog!

I walked around for a couple of days, swirling this information around in my head.  That’s when I decided to unfollow everyone and to also take a break from butterflying around the internet.   The break wasn’t followed perfectly (hence my backup plan in unfollowing everyone), but good results still came.  In fact, I like this new way of Facebooking so well that I’m going to continue with it.  I still have everyone unfollowed, and now I simply choose whose posts I want to read on any given day or at any given moment.   There’s beauty in the simplicity and intentionality of this (and, of course, simplicity and intentionality are two of my favorite things, doncha know).

Social media can be a good thing.  It can also be an obstruction to actually living one’s life.  Let’s use this wonderful technology for our good and not for our harm; that sure is my goal.

Thanks for reading; y’all be blessed,

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Reflections from 2014

I’m taking a break from getting my studio arranged, and am in a somewhat reflective mood and want to share a few thoughts with y’all . . .

2014 knocked me for a bit of a loop. Over the years, I’ve incurred a few minor seizure-related injuries. I’ve even experienced a few serious injuries from seizures (to be precise: 1 shoulder sprain, 1 foot sprain, 2 concussions and 1 leg wound that has given me a lovely v-shaped scar). Thankfully, the ratio of injuries to seizures is actually extremely low . . . except for the after-seizure soreness lasting a few days post seizure and also the inevitable, uhm, tongue biting, not every seizure has resulted in an injury (and, my apologies for the graphic visual, but facts are facts).

I cannot emphasize enough how grateful I am that, overall, I have come out of those goofy neuro chemical misfirings reasonably unscathed.

February’s seizure this year was unique on a few levels. It is by-far, the most severe seizure-related injury I’ve ever incurred; in fact, it’s probably also the worst injury (seizure or not) that I’ve ever incurred.

And. It was extremely painful and also debilitating for a very long time (months and months).

And. The pain (and immobility) was frightening. For five months, I completely lost the use of my right limb; from the shoulder, all the way down to my fingertips. My shoulder, my arm, my hand and my fingers just wouldn’t work.

For months, even being touched on any part of my right limb would feel like searing burning, fire-hot pain. Trying to move any part of my right limb also produced the same results.

For months, I couldn’t even sleep in bed because the pain was just too intense.

For months, I couldn’t do *anything* with my right limb; partly due to the pain and partly due to the fact that my right shoulder / arm / hand / fingers just didn’t *work*. From taking a shower to cooking meals to performing house chores to *anything else*, I pretty-much had to learn how to do everything with one limb – and not my dominant one, at that. This included picking up and holding my Heart Captors. I’m sure y’all can appreciate what that meant to me. But! I did learn . . . with most things (not calligraphy, though). But. I did learn how to do snuggle with my Heart Captors, do house chores, cook and even (thankfully) maintain proper hygiene with just my left arm and its cohorts of shoulder, hand and fingers.  I admit . . . I’m pretty proud of myself for that; some things were quite a challenge. 🙂

But, back to the pain being frightening. Because it truly was.  Until this year, I had never known such intense and long-lasting pain; and often I would wonder if the pain would ever subside . . . and THAT is what was frightening . . . that, and the possibility of not knowing if I would ever be able to use my right limb again.

And. The fright was oppressive.

And.  The oppression was depressive.

And.  The depression was frightening.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

And.  I cried.

And.  I prayed.

Sometimes I cried and prayed at the same time; sometimes, they were separate events. Sometimes I cried and prayed and repeated the process multiple times in a day.

But. Here I am . . . a few days from starting a new year and almost 11 months from . . . say it with me . . . that stoopid seizure. Except for an occasional owie due to bumping my arm or moving it the wrong way, the pain is gone. The immobility is gone as well; I’d say I’ve regained about 95% of movement and function in my right limb. I still am not able to reach behind my back; and since my right arm cannot yet fully extend, it’s also difficult for me to reach above my head . . . but, hey – Tex is awesome about helping me with whatever I still can’t quite do; so between the two of us, things get done.

Will I ever regain that elusive 5%? I truly don’t know. But! I have hope, and I keep trying. There ya go.

One never knows what they’re going to encounter in this journey we call Life . . . BUT! We have a choice in how we respond to catastrophic events . . . do we give up or do we press on? Do we take our pain to Our Lord and ask Him to cover us with HIS Strength or do we insist on going it alone and/or even allow the pain to overtake us?

My hope and prayer for y’all today is that you are able to look to Our Lord Jesus to cover you and to guide you with His Wisdom. I also hope that you know that it is HIS Peace, HIS Joy, HIS Comfort and HIS Strength that will carry you and sustain you through the difficult times . . . and then stay with you during the rest of the time, as well.

Thanks for reading y’all! Here’s 2015 – onward and upward!


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13th out of 4,400!!

My haiku made it!  Out of 4,400 entries, mine came in 13th place!  Because of that, I won a year’s subscription to Lumosity.  I’m very pleased!  If you voted for me, thank you very much!

Follow this link to find out who else won:
(Be sure to select “Top Rated” from the pull-down menu near “Prizes”).

AND . . . if you’re not already a member of Lumosity, I encourage you to give them a try!

Thanks for reading,
Be blessed,

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