Good Morning, Bernadette!

Every night before I go to bed, I look at the clock (i.e. cell phone) and think about what time I’m going to get up in the morning. When I went to sleep the night of November 26th 2010, I didn’t think it would be over two years until I woke up again.

That next day something in me broke and it feels as though I’ve been in a state of catatonia ever since. To be clear, these past years haven’t been bad years. It’s quite the contrary actually, the past two years have been great. I’ve found a great place to worship and enjoy many new relationships. I’ve traveled to new places. I’ve gotten an exciting new job. And I’d say that I’ve grown tremendously. Still, as it was all happening I was in a haze. Sure there were moments of consciousness, but like when I wake up in the middle of the night, I wasn’t ready to get out the bed, still desiring – still needing – sleep. Sleep living.

But 2013 shone on me in my sleep like the light of the sun hitting my face in the morning. I’m awake now and I’m getting ready for the new day with the sense of urgency that comes from knowing you’ve been asleep for long enough. And as I dress myself in preparation of this day, I am coming to accept a simple truth: what was of Bernadette is gone. I awake a new woman, with new convictions, new priorities, new understandings. I can’t live the life that was when I went to sleep, that life has passed. New wine calls for new wineskin!

All the goals that I had previously, all that I wanted for my life before have given way to a new goal:

“And this is my prayer: that [my] love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that [I] may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God!

(A prayer for God’s people found in Paul’s letter to the Body of Christ in Philippi, first chapter, verses nine through eleven)

I don’t know what this new day holds, but I’m preparing for it with excitement and expectancy. I know, without a doubt in my mind, that God has wonderful things in store for me this year. And I know that through all things, the pleasant and unpleasant alike, God is growing me to become more and more Beautifully Bernadette.

Just Saying….

Blogs are funny. And me trying to maintain one is especially funny. Sure, I was consistent when I first started, as most are, but the idea that I would actually keep this blog up to date is almost laughable when I think about it now. I mean, what was I thinking???

It’s not for a lack of wanting to post regularly, I promise. But how can I possibly keep this blog, and by extension who ever reads it, updated with the happenings of my life when I can barely keep up with my life? It was easy when I had my little routine. My life was pretty straight forward and predictable – go to work, go to the gym, eat and write about it. Simple. But then life comes along. First a relationship, then a tragedy, then goodbye relationship, then hello new church, then goodbye old job, then a new roommate, then a new job, then goodbye free-time. One week I’m in this city, then I’m in that city, then I’m hanging with this group, now I’m hanging with that group. It’s enough to make a woman’s head spin!

Not that I’m complaining or anything. In fact, I’m very pleased with the direction of my life, whatever that direction is. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to just sit back and enjoy the ride. I’m just saying that it’s hard to keep up.  SOOOOO… I should get a pass for not posting for weeks at a time, is all I’m saying.

On the Last Hour of Year 26

In approximately 1 hour, I will have completed another year of life. It’s amazing how one period of time can feel like both an eternity and a blink of an eye. It seems like only yesterday when I was reflecting on the last hours of Year 25, yet so much has happened that it seems like a lifetime ago.

I can’t say that I’m not happy to see this year go; Year 26 brought a lot of tears, a lot of pain, a lot of heartache. But it’s in that heartache, that pain, those tears, that I can also find the true gift that this past year has brought me, the opportunity to come into a closer relationship with God. Through my uncertainty, I’ve learned to lean more heavily on Him. Through my anger, I’ve learned to forgive as He forgives. Through my regret, I’ve learned the depth of His grace toward me. Through my sorrow, I’ve learned what it means to truly hope in the Lord.

Yes, this year has been difficult, but as I look back, I choose to see it as a time of growth. Almost like “sink or swim.” No doubt that God wants me to be more Christlike. In Year 26 I was challenged to either strive to become more so or to drown in bitterness and self-pity. With everything that happened, and given the woman I am, there was no in-between option. It was a “sink or swim” year. And while I may not be ready to go up against Michael Phelps, I’m still above water and I feel those swimmer muscles developing.

So as I move into Year 27, I expect and welcome continued growth. I’ll admit, I hope that the most difficult part, the breaking down, is over and I can move on to the building up part with relative ease, but I doubt that will be the case. From my experiences in these 26 years of life, I find that once life seems to be moving along with relative ease, my God likes to rattle things around. Maybe (hopefully) there won’t be quite as much rattling going on in Year 27, maybe just a little rattling. Yes, that is my prayer for this next year in life: Lord, I pray you make me more caring, more compassionate, more loving, more like Christ – with minimal rattling. Amen.

A Bit of Inspiration

The other day, while perusing one of my favorite health and wellness blogs, A Black Girls Guide To Weight Loss, I saw a post from the end of last year that linked to an article about  a number of bloggers who had undergone incredible weight loss naturally, without drugs, without surgery, without any medical shortcuts, just… naturally.

One thing that I want to point out is that while not all of them attribute their success to exercise, EACH of them talked about changing their eating habits. Exercise is important for many reasons, but the key to losing weight and/or maintaining a healthy weight is being more conscious and careful about what you eat. There’s really no way around that.

Anyway, I found this article inspirational and thought it was truly a testament to what can be accomplished through a real commitment to making healthy lifestyle changes.  Check it out:

8 Amazing Blogger Weight-Loss Transformations

The Death of Fear

Every morning one of my Sorors (Sorority sister) sends out a short daily devotional. I absolutely loved this morning’s. It offers practical advice for dealing with ungodly fear. I wanted to share because I found it very encouraging. I think we’ve all had times where we were inhibited by our fears. I know I have….

The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion.
–Proverbs 28:1

How do you respond to fear situations in your life? The following steps will help you identify and hopefully eliminate any irrational fears.

First, analyze your fear. Most people aren’t aware of what is controlling their lives. If you are struggling with anxiety attacks, determine when they first occurred. What experience preceded the first attack? People struggling with agoraphobia can usually identify one precipitating event. It is often associated with some tragedy or failure in their lives, such as a marital affair or an abortion. Satan takes advantage of victimized people if they don’t seek a scriptural solution to their crisis (Psalm 38:18).

Second, determine where God’s place in your life has been usurped. In what way does any fear prevent you from responsible behavior or compel you toward irresponsible behavior? You may need to confess any situations where you’ve allowed your actions to be controlled by fear (Psalm 28:1). We will always live less than a responsible life if we fear anything other than God.

Third, work out a plan of responsible behavior. A college student shared with me that she was living in terror of her father. They hadn’t spoken to each other in six months. Obviously there was irresponsible behavior on both their parts. I suggested that she take the initiative that evening and say, “Hi, Dad!” We reasoned that there were three possible responses he could give. First, he could get mad. Second, he could respond with a greeting.Third, he could remain silent. It was the possibility of the third response that created the most fear.

We then discussed the fourth point: Determine in advance what your response will be to any fear-object. The young woman and I talked about what her response would be in each of those three cases we had mentioned. I then asked her if she would be willing to carry out our plan. She agreed to do it. I got a call that evening from a happy daughter who exclaimed, “He said ‘Hi’ back!”  Do the thing you fear the most, and the death of fear is certain.

Prayer: Lord, give me the courage to meet my fears head-on and the persistence to overcome them in Your strength.

–Source:  Daily In Christ

Random List of Things I Love to Do

  1. Nap at the park
  2. Drive at ridiculous speeds while singing at the top of my lungs
  3. Eat
  4. Study God’s Word
  5. Watch live performances
  6. Sleep in the bathtub
  7. Swing on the swings
  8. Cry to sad music when I’m sad
  9. Read while taking a bubble bath
  10. Attend sporting events
  11. Nap at the beach
  12. Watch/talk about/pretend I’m part of Grey’s Anatomy
  13. Swim with the fishies
  14. Color with crayons
  15. Ride a bike
  16. Watch romantic comedies/Disney movies/action movies/Will Smith
  17. Star gaze
  18. Float around in the pool
  19. Take long, leisurely walks
  20. Feed the duckies
  21. Listen to the rain while drinking hot tea/chocolate
  22. Dance around my apartment

It’s the little things…..

Random List of Places I Eat When I’m Too Lazy to Make My Own Food

I just felt like highlighting some of the places that I’ve come to love on those days when I want to get out and let someone else make my food (I just had lunch so food is on my brain).

1. Chipotle – I LOVE Chipotle. I have for some time now and that love didn’t die when I stopped eating meat; I just changed what I order. I used to get a chicken bowl, now I just get a veggie bowl loaded with black beans and lettuce (and usually without rice). The Chipotle by my job even offers a meat substitute, but I prefer getting the veggie bowl cause then I don’t have to pay extra for guacamole.

2. Salad Creations – This is probably my FAVORITE place to go for lunch (there’s one close to my job). Anything you can think to put on a salad they have. Plus they have red wine and balsamic vinegar for those days when I don’t want a fatty dressing.

3. zpizza – I lived right by a zpizza for years and never tried it until after I gave up meat & dairy and learned they offer a dairy free cheese substitute. Now I love this place. Every pizza I’ve had here has been delicious. Like most other pizza places, they have online ordering and delivery.

4. Subway – When ever I want to spend no more than $5 on lunch, I go to Subway. The Veggie Delite does me right.

5. Veggie Grill – Every now and then I get the hankerin’ for a burger, just without the meat (and the fat and the cholesterol that comes with it). When I do, I usually go to Veggie Grill for lunch. While this isn’t my favorite vegan restaurant, it does have a number of tasty menu items that I enjoy.

6. Native Foods Cafe – Ok, THIS in my favorite vegan restaurant so far. If only there were one close to me… *sigh* Going to Native Foods is always a treat. It’s great for omnis and carnis alike. I’ve taken a few friends there and they all liked what they had.

7. “Ethnic” Restaurants – Why does it seem like every other type of cuisine is 20-times more vegetarian friendly than American cuisine? If going out, I love places that serve Thai, Greek/Mediterranean, Indian, Afghan/Pakistan, etc… Point being I can usually find some great “fare” at a restaurant that serves food other than American.

8. Burger Joints –  So now that I’ve talked all this mess about American cuisine, I will say that most burger chains (think Red Robin, Johnny Rockets, etc) do offer a veggie burger. This usually isn’t my first choice of places to go (I’d much rather hit up Native Foods for a “Chicken Run Ranch Burger”), but if I’m with people who want to go to a burger place or if I want a burger, but don’t wanna make it and don’t feel like driving to LA or the OC, I’ll just settle for the nearest burger place that’ll give me a veggie patty.

So there’s my list. I’m sure this list will grow as I continue trying new places, but this is what it is for now.

The New Years Post

Okay, so I know that we’re well into the second month of this year and it may be a little late to refer to this as a New Years post, but the nice thing about having a blog is that I can call my posts whatever I want 🙂

In a sense, today was like New Years for me. Around the beginning of the new year people often take time to reflect on the year that passed and begin to determine what they want for their lives in the coming year. Well, that’s exactly what today was like for me. The past few months have been very difficult (that’s why I haven’t posted anything on here lately). A number of events occurred in my personal life that really took a toll on me, emotionally, physically and spiritually. So when the new year came around, I wasn’t really in the emotional state to do all the usual new year resolutioning. In fact, I wasn’t in the emotional state to do much of anything productive….

But today felt like an awakening of sorts.  I woke up this morning with a renewed enthusiasm for life and decided to write a set of goals that I have for the coming year. The result was a goal packet I created for myself. Yes, I ended up with a packet, not just a list. It started as a list, but then I realized that a list doesn’t really get me far. I needed a plan of action, a set of concrete steps that I will take to accomplish my goals.  So that’s what I did. Now, my packet isn’t complete yet, but I’d say I’m off to a good start.

I have to admit, initially I felt kinda guilty because most of my goals seemed somewhat selfish to me, but my mommy told me it’s okay because I’m at a stage in life where I’m supposed to be working on me and establishing myself. So now I can look at my packet guilt free.  Thanks mom!

In case you’re curious, here’s the list that I started with. It’s very personal, but I decided to share it anyway because maybe there’s something on my list that someone who’s reading this wants to do as well or there may be something someone can help me accomplish. At any rate, here it is:

Bernadette’s Goals: 2011

Financial

1. Research various investment options (via online resources and/or discussion with broker)

2. Wisely invest $1,000

3. Increase savings by $5,000

4. Pay $5,500 toward car

5. Pay $2,000 toward student loan

Personal

6. Read Moby Dick, Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Good Earth

7. Take a vacation

8. Volunteer 2+ times a month

9. Dance 1+ times a month

10. Drop 5+ lbs

11. Continue study of Japanese language (via books, class and/or software)

12. Continue study of piano (via class and/or personal instruction)

13. Host 2+ “ladies night” get togethers

Spiritual

14. Find a church home (stay put Bernadette!)

15. Join a ministry (choir doesn’t count)

16. Attend weekly Bible study

17. Fast quarterly (to include study and prayer)

18. No sex

19. Create 1+ Bible study lessons a month

20. Find godly woman mentor

Random List of Things I Want for my Birthday

Since my birthday is 19 days away, I thought that I would provide a few ideas as you’re considering what to get me 🙂

  1. Ani’s Raw Food Essentials
  2. Vegan Planet
  3. Vegan on the Cheap
  4. Rainbow Green Live Food Cuisine
  5. Vegan Express
  6. Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons
  7. Any raw/vegan dessert recipe book
  8. Any smoothie/juice recipe book
  9. Gigantic bag of plain (unroasted) cashews
  10. Gift card to Borders (or any book store for that matter)
  11. Gift card to Whole Foods
  12. Gift card to Trader Joe’s
  13. Gift card to Fresh & Easy
  14. Gift card to Chevron (do they have those?)
  15. Heavy duty food processor
  16. Excalibur dehydrator
  17. Cash, check or money order for any amount over $5

On Anxiety, Food and Prayer

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything , by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” – Philippians 4:6

Today I had a mini-breakdown of sorts. I was sitting in my office, trying to do work when I became very anxious. I don’t know about you, but with me this is something that happens every now and then. I’m not really sure what triggers it. It starts as just thinking  about one thing, which will lead me to start thinking about something else, which leads to something else and so on until I’m bombarded with everything that has been on my mind lately. And once that happens, I begin to feel the need to have everything resolved right now. The realization that it can’t all be resolved right now causes me more stress, to the point that I feel a tightening in my chest and my breathing becomes strained.

When this starts happening, my first urge is to eat, especially when one of the many things on my mind is worrying about the food in my fridge going bad. I know this is not right. I consider it a problem when something goes wrong and I am more apt to opening the refrigerator than opening my Bible.  To me this is no better than someone who opens a bottle of alcohol or pack of cigarettes when he or she becomes anxious. Fortunately, when this anxiety hit me today I was at work and didn’t have access to my fridge. BUT I was able to go to God in prayer and discuss with him all the many things that were causing me to be anxious. And let me tell you, that was all I needed to do.

This incident was a reminder to me though. I have to be careful to not make a false god out of food, even the healthy stuff. I think it’s a good thing that I am trying to eat more healthfully, but it must be kept in its proper place. Food can’t become a crutch that I lean on more than God. If, instead of eating when I feel anxious, I take it to God in prayer, the Bible tells me that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That sounds like a much better outcome than a food coma.