Saturday, March 18, 2017

NOTHING AND EVERYTHING.


I know, I know.

It's been a whopping 10 months since I've posted to this blog.

As the old cliche goes, I haven't been inspired to write anything. (Blah, blah, blah.)

That's why I find it particularly ironic that the following post is really about nothing.

Yet it has to do with everything.

I'll explain.

As I sit here enjoying my orange peel black tea on this still, snowy Saturday morning, I am once again reminded of how reliably unpredictable Michigan weather can be--just a few days shy of spring, no less--because it was only about a week ago that I dusted off one of those portable blue nylon lawn chairs and watched Scotty and Kennedy play at opposite ends of the driveway. 

During times like those, it's not at all unusual for me to mindlessly--almost robotically--bow my head and begin scrolling through my Instagram feed until my eyes glaze over from the endless stream of perfectly airbrushed candid shots and silly boomerang loops.

But, that day, I ignored my cell phone, kept my head up, and chose to look around instead.

Somehow, some way, my mind flashed back to ten years ago, when my life was totally different than what it is today. Back when I was a thirty-year-old newlywed who worked 10-hour days at City Hall. Back when it was just The Hubs and me. Back when our home was, in many regards, quiet and empty. Back when our spare bedrooms served as an office and a yoga den, before they had been converted to a nursery and the center of a toddler's universe.

There was a time when I would have spent a stolen moment like this on the deck in the back yard, sipping moscato and flipping through Vogue

Yet, here I am now in the driveway watching my kids play, and my chair's cup holder is harboring an array of bubble wands instead of bubbly.

Because, priorities.

Priorities that are also blessings.


Around the New Year, I came across a meme online that has--quite literally--stuck with me everyday since:

Take note of your surroundings because one year from now, something will be different.

The words hit me like a ton of bricks.

At first, the message possessed an ominous quality (Is someone close to me going to die? What bad fate will fall upon myself, a loved one, or a friend that will forever change our lives as we know it?).

But I've since come to view this meme as a precursor of the changes to come--in a good way.

Perhaps it's the fact that I was in a good mood at the time because the kids were playing fabulously and were not at each other's throats. Or perhaps it's the fact that in two weeks I'm going to turn 40 and I'm damn grateful for everything life has put me through thus far.

But the fact remains: It takes the same amount of time and the same amount of energy to focus on the positive instead of the bad.

Meaning, different can also be another way of describing something that's fantastically, magically, irresistibly awesome.

Let's all focus on expecting that instead.


Monday, May 2, 2016

7 NATURAL SUPPLEMENTS I USE DAILY


Finally, I'm publishing this post!

I mentioned a while back that I would publish a post which detailed the array of all-natural health supplements I use daily -- and why I like them.

I know, I know: That proclamation was only 365 days ago. (Hanging my head in shame at my overt display of procrastination.)

Well, the up side to this delay is that I have since added another supplement to my list, one that I swear makes all the difference in my overall health, so now I have seven gems to share with you instead of six.

So without further adu...



BEE POLLEN
          Here's a recap from Food Matters®, which summarizes the benefits of bee pollen far better than I ever could: 
          "Bee Pollen is made by honeybees and is the food of the young bee. It is considered one of nature's most completely nourishing foods as it contains nearly all nutrients required by humans. Bee-gathered pollens are rich in proteins (approximately 40% protein), free amino acids, vitamins, including B-complex, and folic acid. Bee pollen is a complete food and contains many elements that products of animal origin do not possess. Bee pollen is richer in proteins than any animal source. It contains more amino acids than beef, eggs, or cheese of equal weight. About half of its protein is in the form of free amino acids that are ready to be used directly by the body. It is important to recognize that a one teaspoon dose of pollen takes one bee working eight hours a day for one month to gather. Each bee pollen pellet, contains over two million flower pollen grains and one teaspoonful contains over 2.5 billion grains of flower pollen." 
          Furthermore, bee pollen is an energy enhancer, immune system booster, and prostate aid (so make sure the man in your life is consuming it!) Bee pollen also stimulates and restores ovarian function, and therefore may be used to assist in accelerating pregnancy. 
          But here's one of the primary reasons I eat it every day: It has been used holistically for years for healing addictions and inhibiting cravings by suppressing impulses. I have a wicked addiction to sugar, and I stand before you today to testify that nothing -- NOTHING -- has helped curb my sugar cravings like bee pollen (Hello, weight management!) I add 1 tsp daily either to my bowl of cereal or morning smoothie. I'll be sure to share the recipe for that smoothie in my next blog post. 😀



GROUND FLAX SEEDS
          According to WebMD, flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. 
          Now, thirteen centuries later, some experts say we have preliminary research to back up what Charlemagne suspected. In fact, some call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet.     
          There’s some evidence it may help reduce risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. 
          But the funny thing is, I didn't even know about any of this when I began eating ground flax seeds in my salads and cereal over 10 years ago. The reason I began eating them back in 2003 is because I became a vegetarian, and I needed a reliable source of omega-3 essential fatty acids (i.e. the "good" fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects), and each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s, and I was also looking to add more fiber to my diet -- and flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types. 
          Today, I still eat 1 tbsp of ground flax daily, either in my salad, cereal, or smoothie. 



CHIA SEEDS
          I should just type, What CAN'T this superfood do? and leave it at that.
          Honestly, when Mother Nature invented this seed, she dropped the mic. 
          But I laugh at the fact that these seeds mainly became popular by way of a cheesy pop culture icon, the Chia Pet, and now these seeds from the same plant are being sold online and in health food stores! 
          According to WebMD, chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, grown in Mexico dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures. "Chia" means strength, and folklore has it that these cultures used the tiny black and white seeds as an energy booster. 
          Chia seeds are a concentrated food containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium. These seeds possess a mild, nutty flavor, which makes them easy to add to foods and beverages. They are most often sprinkled on cereal, sauces, vegetables, rice dishes, or yogurt or mixed into drinks and baked goods. (These seeds can also be boiled with water and made into a hair gel! ) 
          In theory, chia seeds are supposed to expand in your belly, helping you to feel full, eat less, and ultimately shed pounds (Once again, Hello, weight management!) -- and I believe this is indeed the case, although some researchers disagree. 
          But here's the thing about a chia seed's ability to expand: It can turn your smoothie into a thick, Jell-O-like pudding, which I'm not particularly fond of. So I simply stick to adding the seeds to my cereal and almond milk, where they remain undercover (for the most part) consistency-wise.




SHATA DHAUT GRUT
          I first became aware of shata dhaut grut, a natural skin moisturizer to be used daily, by way of my ayurvedic doctor, whom I began going to back in 2010 in preparation of my first pregnancy. 
          Ayurveda is a system of medicine with historical roots in India. It's a holistic science which focuses on each person’s physical and emotional nature with the intent to bring about optimal health.           And it's kind of opposite how we do it here in the United States/
          With ayurveda, a person visits the doctor four times a year (in accordance with the change of the seasons) in order to keep himself well as opposed to going to the doctor only when he is sick. (I've only gone to see my ayurvedic doctor when I've been well, as a matter of fact.) 
          So, there I was, at my last ayurvedic doctor's visit before I gave birth to my son (Scotty), and my doctor hands me this tiny jar (pictured above) of shata dhaut grut, which, in Ayurveda, is a special but very simple ghee preparation extensively used for skin care.  
           The English translation is as follows: Shata, meaning "one hundred," dhaut, meaning "washed with water," grut, meaning "ghee or clarified butter." 
          The preparation of this remedy involves adding equal parts ghee and water, mixing thoroughly with hand or a machine for 3–5 minutes, and then letting out the water. That process is repeated again and again, adding fresh water each time. In Ayurveda, it is advised to repeat the procedure 100 times. But in practice, it is usually only done for 20–30 times. 
          Well, my son is nearly five years old, and I still use shata dhaut grut every single day as a facial moisturizer because I absolutely love how it adds much-needed moisture without being greasy.




ALOE VERA JUICE
          Like shata dhaut grut (above), I began drinking aloe vera juice due to the recommendation by my ayurvedic doctor. Although I absolutely love the taste of this stuff, I only drink one shot glass full before or after every meal I consume at home. (My doctor actually suggested that I drink it after every meal, but that would mean carrying it with me if I'm away from home, and since this juice must be refrigerated, I'm sorry, that's just too much of a hassle. But let's say I eat dinner out, then I'll be sure to take a shot of aloe vera juice as soon as I come home.)
          Here's the deal about aloe vera juice: It helps to regulate blood sugar levels, it detoxifies the body and colon, and it aids in the elimination of constipation. And because my dosha (i.e. doshas are specific body types that are defines within ayurveda) has a propensity to have digestive issues, my doctor said that I would see a major difference in how I felt if I drank aloe vera juice regularly.
          And guess what?
          She was totally right.
          I buy the exact jug pictured above for less than seven bucks at Walmart, and it lasts quite a long time.
           FYI, aloe vera juice is also said to help with weight loss by increasing metabolic rate to burn more calories, improves circulation, aid in healing damage to internal tissues, regulate blood pressure, strengthens immune system, retard the growth of cancerous tumors, and reduce inflammation.
          So basically, it's a miracle tonic.



SUPER B COMPLEX
          Shameless confession here: I only take Super B Complex for my hair.
          Don't get me wrong, I'm sure these pills possess a whole host of additional benefits, but the only ones I'm after are healthier, stronger strands.
          Does that sound shallow?
          Sorry, not sorry.
          Super B Complex does consists of vitamins, like biotin (B7), which some say promotes healthy hair. It also contains folic acid (vitamin B9) which is another important nutrient that is required for building DNA and maintaining healthy, glossy hair. 
          Here's the thing: I've never had a problem with hair growth. My hair grows pretty fast, and, fortunately, it also retains its length (i.e. doesn't break easily when I treat it right.)
          But I'd be lying if I didn't admit to seeing a difference in my hair since I began taking Super B Complex back in November 2015 when I stopped straightening my hair. I swear, I think these pills make my hair grow even faster.
          Seriously, folks.
          I think these pills are The Truth.



FISH OIL
          Of all the supplements on this page, I reckon I've been taking fish oil the longest. 
          Our entire family takes fish oil, including both of our children.
          And of all the types of fish oil I've consumed throughout the years, I've fallen hard for krill, which The Hubs introduced me to last year.
          Simply put, krill oil is fish oil 5.0.
          Here's a summary of its benefits from WebMD:
          "Krill oil is oil from a tiny, shrimp-like animal. Baleen whales, mantas, and whale sharks eat primarily krill. In Norwegian, the word "krill" means "whale food." People extract the oil from krill, place it in capsules, and use it for medicine. Some brand name krill oil products indicate that they use Antarctic krill. This usually refers to the species of krill called Euphausia superba. Krill oil is used for heart disease, high levels of certain blood fats (triglycerides), high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis, depression, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and painful menstrual periods. The oil also contains fatty acids similar to fish oil. These fats are thought to be beneficial fats that decrease swelling, lower cholesterol, and make blood platelets less sticky. When blood platelets are less sticky they are less likely to form clots."
          And the best part?
          No yucky-fishy taste in your mouth when you burp.



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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

MY HUSBAND'S NFL DRAFT EXPERIENCE

From an overall national perspective, one might think that the Super Bowl is the NFL’s everything.

But to the NFL (and its die-hard fanatics) the big dance is really the NFL draft.

It is officially known as the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting, and it's a pretty big deal because moves are made, teams are built, and dreams are realized.

Seemingly with one phone call.

Quite simply, lives change.

And, yeah, money’s got a lot to do with it.

But it’s more than that.

Imagine if your heart’s – no, life’s – desire was to do a particular thing, something that less than 1% of the American population got to experience. And imagine if you were chosen.

There is a tremendous amount of passion here. And responsibility. And expectation. And, of course, pressure.

Scott was selected by the Detroit Lions in the fifth round of the 1991 NFL draft. He was 118th out of a total of 334 players drafted that year. He went on to experience a six-year career in the NFL, playing exclusively for the Detroit Lions and blocking for Hall of fame Running back Barry Sanders.

And while Scott is actually the first member of his family to make it to the NFL, he wasn’t the last: His first cousin, Frank Conover, was also drafted to the NFL (Cleveland Browns) in the eighth round of the very same draft. But more on that in a minute.


Here's exactly what happened that day, straight from my husband's mouth:


1.     In the countless conversations we’ve had about the NFL draft, you say that you didn’t expect to be drafted. But you had to have had some idea that this was coming
No, I really didn’t. You can’t assume anything. I did have an agent, and I worked out at the NFL Combine – and I also completed a work-out in front of 18-20 teams. But you never know.

2.     Briefly explain the NFL Combine.
It’s like an audition that’s sponsored by the NFL and held a few months before the draft. Only 1,500 players total are invited to attend.

3.     Most people first became aware of sports agents through the film Jerry McGuire, but can you further explain the role an agent plays in the draft? Also, how did you find your agent?
My agent found me, so I didn’t have to look for one. An agent showcases a player in the same way that an agent would help actors, models, and writers get work. They get your resume in front NFL team scouts and coaches.

4.     Take me back to the day of the draft. What did you do? What was going through your head?
I sat in the living room with my family and friends, uncertain and anxious, and watched the draft in real time on television. My agent informed me that the Cleveland Browns had the first pick in the second round of the draft, and they were eying me and two other players. That’s when I got my hopes up. Even though that didn’t materialize, I remained hopeful because my agent told me that the way the draft was shaking out, I could expect to be drafted between the third and fifth rounds. So I detached myself from the draft until the third round. But because the 1991 draft was running so long, it ended for the day at the end of the third round. And I still wasn’t drafted.

5.     And what happened then?
I got up that morning because I had to get ready to catch a flight back to Purdue University (in Indiana). I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating a bowl of cereal when the phone rang. I wasn’t even thinking that the call could be for me – it caught me completely off guard. At this point in the draft, it was no longer televised. I was still half asleep. My mom hands me the phone, and it was a coach from the Detroit Lions. 

6.     How did that conversation go?
He introduced himself and told me that they had the seventh pick in the fifth round and they were going to make me their selection. Then they put me on hold for a couple of minutes. When they returned, they informed me that they had made it official and welcomed me to the Detroit Lions family.

7.     Your life changed with that phone call. When did it all sink in?
It really sank in when I flew out to the Lions training facility the next week to participate in mini-camp. They picked me up in a limo and drove me to the Pontiac Silverdome, where the Lions practiced and played at the time. Head coach Wayne Fontes and his staff greeted me at the door. And then I went into the locker room to find a locker with my name on it. I thought to myself, Damn. This is real.

8.     How cool was it to have your closest cousin play in the NFL with you? How did you guys keep from being too competitive with each other?
It was easy: We played two different positions, in different NFL conferences, and never actually played against each other.

9.     As an NFL veteran who has gone through this process before, what would you tell members of this year’s draft class?
This is only the beginning. You have to work hard to win a spot on your team. Being drafted doesn’t guarantee anything – only an opportunity. Good luck.

10. Football has been very kind to you, but in a lot of ways, it has also been cruel: I know your body aches…A LOT. Would you do it all again?
Yes. Absolutely.

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