Thursday, November 25, 2004

A Thanksgiving to remember

I am sitting in the kitchen of my cousin's home, everyone still in their jammies, drinking coffee, smelling the peacan pie baking, the kids reading their new books, the dog walking around with a toy in her mouth.

Later we will be off to the biggest Thanksgiving gathering I have attended outside of a church dinner - 25 adults and 10 children. Maybe they will sit me at the kid's table...that would be fun!

What a very, very nice morning. I am surrounded by love, with so much to be thankful for.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Small changes - Part II

Read Part I

So it's been almost a week now since I embarked on my first "small changes". It's amazing...I really did start to feel differently the very first day. Probably the combination of more fiber and less fat and caffiene accounted for most the difference. And in that time I lost two pounds, even though the only changes I made were at breakfast.

And then today something rare and wonderful happened - so rare that I am still trying to get over the shock...I cooked.

I actually enjoy cooking, but it is such a challenge for just one person, so I usually only do it when I am having company. The thought of cooking actually entered my mind earlier in the week so I did get some groceries. Today as I was doing laundry and reading the Sunday paper, I decided to give it a try and cook for dinner instead of going out or microwaving something from the freezer. I looked around for ingredients to experiment with, and ended up with a whole-wheat pasta, spinach and parmesan cheese thing that came out pretty tasty. The only change I'll make next time is to add a little garlic.

With Thanksgiving this week, which I will be spending with my cousin and his family in Boston, I've decided to wait to add the next small change. But I'm packing my cereal and my walking shoes and hoping for the best.

In the meantime, I have some pots and pans to scrub. Anybody know how many calories dishwashing burns?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

He never leaves, even when we do not feel Him

Today's Our Daily Bread is about God's promise to always be with us.

How often do we actually feel that God is there? I would say that most of the time we don't think about it at all. In bad times we might doubt it severely.

But our faith tells us He is always there, because He made that promise.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Small changes

Last week I was in a bookstore looking for a gift. I walked out having spent $26 on yet another weight loss book for myself. Oy, what a waste of money!

I have struggled with my weight for almost 30 years now, and in that time have read hundreds of books and countless magazine articles on the subject. Those of you who have never had a weight problem are probably mystified at the rate of obesity in this country. What is so hard about losing weight? You eat less and exercise more...isn't it that simple? Yes, it is. But it is the psychological and emotional reasons for overeating that somebody who has not been there just cannot comprehend.

One magazine I have kept for quite a while has the story of a woman who lost 185 pounds. No pills, no liquid diet, no surgery. She ate less and exercised more. But the key to her success was making one small change in her routine at a time.

I'm giving that a try. Instead of trying to change everything about my eating all at once, I am starting with breakfast. Yesterday instead of the usual fast food breakfast eaten quickly in my car on the way to the office, I ate cereal with skim milk, plus made my own coffee at home and took my vitamin (which I forget most days). I also made sure to drink plenty of water instead of more coffee or diet pop at the office. I still ate badly at lunch and dinner, but I sure felt better in the morning not having that lump of greasy food in my stomach.

Today is day two. I've had my good breakfast and am off to work now.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Aunt Judie Helpful Hint #6

Giving Helpful Hints is part of my calling here at Aunt Judie's Guide to Life. I offer them because I care...because it is my hope that you can avoid the mistakes I have made. These hints come from true experiences. You may not think so when you read this one, but really...who could make this stuff up?

Remember I was out of town last week. So Monday morning I did my makeup as I unpacked my travel bag. Part of my ritual is blending my eyeshadow with a small brush. As I swiped the brush along my left eyelid, it felt funny against my skin. I looked at the brush and found a substance known in scientific language as "goop". Something had obviously leaked in my travel bag. I wiped it off with my fingers and didn't think much of it.

Later in the day I figured out what the mystery substance must have been - anti-perspirant. My eyelid was dry and odor-free. Ha ha ha! Never let 'em see your eyelids sweat! It was not so funny the next day when I had a rash there. You see, the anti-perspirant did it's just did it in the wrong place.

Anyway, my eyelid is still a little dried out, but it will be OK in a day or two. So I guess my advice is this:

1. Keep your makeup brushes in a plastic bag when traveling.
2. Keep your anti-perspirant (and any other stuff that can leak) in a different plastic bag.
3. If you ever accidentally put an unknown substance on your skin, don't shrug it off...wash it off!

Have a helpful hint to share? Write me at auntjudie-at-comcast-dot-net.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

I'm gonna be an Aunt-in-Law!

At a family gathering on Sunday, my oldest nephew B announced his engagement to his lovely girlfriend L! They will marry in about two years after he finishes school and settles into his teaching career.

My reaction came in stages:

1. Tearful joy.
2. Woo-hoo! We're havin' a wedding!
3. Got two years to find a date.
4. I'm going on a diet tomorrow.
5. Ha sister the mother-in-law!

As I sipped my champagne in a quiet moment later, I teared up again thinking of the first time I saw B - when I tiptoed into his room and gazed at that small bundle in the middle of the huge crib. I remembered the years I lived upstairs from them, and how he would plop up the steps on Saturday mornings in his footie PJs and announce that breakfast was ready. I remembered him in a tiny tuxedo and Snoopy sunglasses at his uncle's wedding. Snapshots of his life filled my mind.

It's a cliche, but it's true. It all seems like just yesterday.

And now he's getting married. Starting a new life with the woman he loves. Building a home and a family. Boy, does Aunt Judie have a lot of advice for them!

Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Election reflections

So the election is finally over.

This was the eighth time I have voted in a presidential election, and the first time I voted absentee. I knew I would be out of town on election day, so two weeks ago I drove to the county board of elections and got it done. When I told a friend at work that I had already voted, she asked me what I would do if something big happened or was revealed about one of the candidates before the election. Would I regret voting early? Not at all.

Neither candidate shared 100% of my core values. But one was far ahead of the other on that score, and that is how I voted. When you know what you believe and you take a stand for it, decisions like who to vote for are usually simple. Nothing could have happened in the ten days between casting my vote and the election that would have swayed my opinion.

You may think it is over now, but the next presidential campaign has already begun. The spin doctors are busy analyzing what went right and what went wrong. The movers and shakers are already looking at possible candidates for 2008. The political process is never-ending. That is our system. It's not perfect; it's not even pretty most of the time. But it is the best system in the world.

The increased voter turnout we saw this year was a wonderful thing, no matter what the result. If your guy lost, don't get discouraged and give up on politics. If your guy won, don't gloat or take things for granted.

And keep in mind this thought from the surprisingly gracious concession speech of the candidate that lost:

But in an American election, there are no losers, because whether or not our candidates are successful, the next morning we all wake up as Americans. And that -- that is the greatest privilege and the most remarkable good fortune that can come to us on earth.

God Bless America.

My favorite hotel in the world

I just now got back from a week at my favorite "hotel" in the world...M & C's house in Michigan. I am so blessed to have the ability to visit every couple of months, staying with Daniel's brother and his family while working from my old office. A week of conversation, laughs, hugs and home cookin' always leaves me smiling! Thank you, friends.

Not having a TV myself, I was very glad to be where there was one (actually six or seven) for the big Election night festivities. I'll post more about that later tonight. Right now, I have laundry to do and a week of mail to sort through.