~ So Long Summer Sabbatical, Hello Sweet September ~
Remember when you had to learn - or rather, memorize - the dates of seemingly countless historical events, while growing up in school?
I mean - does anyone ever really forget that the U.S. Civil War took place from 1861-1865?
Or that World War I lasted from 1914 until 1918? Added on to that one - y’all know the historical significance of November 11th, right?
And let’s never forget that our country was founded in 1776? July 4th - to be exact.
Throw together just a few more for the heck of it...
How about World War II lasting from 1939 until 1945?
How many of y’all know when we first landed on the Moon?
Or let’s go even farther back here - way back. When was Jesus born? When did He die? And - why did the event of His death have to happen in order for humans to be where they are today in God’s image???
Are any and/or all of those dates burned into your memory at this point in your life? Whether you ever spend a moment thinking about them throughout your daily activities, or not?
They - and an infinite number more days, periods, and good ol’ fashioned chunks of time - helped change the course of human history.
All those dates, and every infinitesimal thing in between - they were, and are, all moments in time. Placeholders in time. Bookmarks in time. Moments of time that were simply one page... of a much grander, and larger, novel.
If you flip to page ninety-nine of a very thick and heavy, weighty and bulky, five hundred and forty page Tom Clancy book… but you read only that single page - you’ll definitely not understand the context of what came before, and will never know what happens later on. Or - even much, much later on. And let’s not forget about those lucrative sequels. What will happen to our beloved hero then?... Once a new book deal is signed.
If Jack Ryan has to jump out of a burning building on page two hundred, but the story doesn’t explain why he’s doing that until you flip to page two hundred one… and all you’ve ever read was page two hundred... You’ll never find out that maybe he was escaping a bomb explosion. A small fire bomb that would be igniting an even larger bomb. Or that he may have been jumping from the first floor - and he’s just fine to continue on with his work after the jump. The spy operation that he being in the middle of - would make no sense to you - the context - having not read earlier chapters.
Context is relevant. To every story. And context is relevant to the entire story of humanity.
So, ohhhhh... with all that being said - Can you believe that Memorial Day weekend was over three months ago now?
I can’t, really. Do you remember that weekend? And the days… weeks, and trials we’ve all had to face, since then?
Memorial Day seems like it is one of those placeholders to me. The unofficial start to summer fun. Just as Labor Day is another placeholder - or bookmark. The unofficial end of summer, and the beginning of the autumnal season and beauty and grandeur of fall. Along with a change of routines, school days, and pumpkin spice and apple cider.
A whole heck of a lot has happened since this last Memorial Day weekend - in this, the grand and mighty year that is, our dearly beloved beast - 2020. This summer was loaded with pages of a massive and thick and complicated novel. We all witnessed a different sort of start to the summer season, we then witnessed a completely different summer altogether, and now we are beginning a different sort of autumn. Yes, it’s been a definite year, and we’re not nearly through with it just yet. I mean - what else can possibly come next?
Yes - my dear friends - Aliens. With all that has happened - I would not be surprised by such a blurb in an upcoming news reel.
So much has changed. And then, quite sadly, so much is still the same. But - the context of the events that are taking place is imperative to the story at this point.
That Memorial Day holiday weekend started out as any other. And, my hubby and I ventured out to a lovely meal during the patriotic and memorable date.
We chose a local German restaurant - the German Schnitzel Haus, located at 13475 Atlantic Boulevard, in Jax. And, just because… well - for no reason other than because I wanted to, I went ahead and vlogged the experience for you.
We ended up enjoying our meal, the entire patio outside to ourselves, grabbing some monstrously sized dessert afterward at Whataburger, and then made our way over to what I call The Bridge.
Jacksonville is a city by the water. Ocean, rivers, creeks, swamps, intercoastal, etc. - so bridges are everywhere throughout town, and I absolutely love them all. And really, I just seem to call every bridge and any bridge in town - the bridge.
I’m quite a huge fan of bridges - by whatever name they happen to go by though. They absolutely fascinate me. Their structure, color, height, curvature, where and what and whom they are branching together in their arch, and then, even what happens to be hanging out underneath them... it’s all equally exciting and thrilling to me.
So we went to The Bridge after we ate. And we just - hung out. Utilizing the shade from the structure, we relaxed. We watched all the activity taking place beneath the massive structure. And I captured a bit of this and a little bit of that, on video, for you.
But since that fateful weekend, America has not been settled. She is very sick right now. She is broken-hearted. And my heart breaks - for her - and with her.
Sure, I saw many, countless precursors to the actions that are currently taking place. I read, and understand the context of the previous pages. But I believe it was that weekend - Memorial Day Weekend - 2020, that helped ignite a flashpoint.
I’ve previously discussed this event with you. I’ve even questioned if we are a world at war with one another?
But when one is at war - the actual name of it is actually quite irrelevant at the time. After all, are we at war today? Does anyone know the answer? Many say yes - and many say no. Are we at war today if people deny it?
Some say it's a cultural war. Some say a revolution? My brain is trying to tell me that all wars are unique. They all have a different appearance. They all have their own reasoning and context. And with any war - there will be those who it doesn’t affect as much as others. Could our national heartache and upset actually be such a fight? Taking place, right now? I really don’t know.
But I do believe wherever we are - that we are at a tipping point. I do believe we’ve been in a lead up to THIS for a very long time, though. This - being whatever THIS is. And I’m talking years here - not days, weeks, or even months. I’ve seen the writing on the wall, and I’ve read the pages.
And, sadly, yes... I do believe we may be currently living on the razor’s edge. I believe we are about to cross the event horizon line of a black hole. And we may be about to go past the point of no return.
And just like a real black hole, way out there in outer space…
It’s size, shape, power, grasp, and gravity…
Some will never see it.
Some will never understand it.
And many - will never even read the books written about it later.
But whether the books are written and read, or not, may be irrelevant to whom and when it is actually taking place. Because, when you’re being sucked into a black hole, your most likely only concern at that point is for your own survival. And as happens with every single thing that is sucked into a black hole - there comes a time, just before reaching the event horizon line, that one can still escape from its force. It’s that moment I am referencing here. With an extreme and heightened awareness of one’s immediate surroundings and what is happening. But it also may be very confusing. As such a force is so powerful and vast, that up close and personal, things may appear quite strange.
Kinda like right now...
What’s happening all around us - is literally and actually happening all around us.
But - What’s been done is done. And we have to figure out how to continue onward.
And it’s up to people to choose to see it. Or not.
And people can definitely turn a blind eye.
And people can deny all they want.
And far into the future, many will just remember the numbers: 2020. And maybe not the significance of all that has occurred in that time period and during this exact time.
And the event horizon line I’m talking about here is FORGIVENESS.
Remember how I asked you earlier WHY Jesus rose from the dead?
It seems there is currently a vast lack of forgiveness taking place in this world right now. We left forgiveness outside the black hole - if we did indeed cross the event horizon line. It didn’t join us on the next pages of our journey. We need to find forgiveness in our hearts - once again.
And it is this lack of forgiveness that makes me question this relationship we have with one another.
Once forgiveness is lost, there’s not much left to keep us tethered together. As a People. As a Nation. As a community. As global sovereign states and neighbors. And as a civil society. As peaceful patrons inside a grocery store.
When someone does something or someone wrong, we have a very civil way of handling the situation. It’s pretty basic… and it’s called an apology.
And after the person who wronged another apologized, this very basic and very humane thing usually occurs. And it happens on the opposing side… The other side of the wronged - by the person or persons who were wronged.
This is where Forgiveness always factors in. On the side of the wronged is where forgiveness always matters the most.
And forgiveness is sometimes, and most of the time, the more important part of the transaction amongst two beings.
And if it happened today - right now - would that be a miracle? Because, is it forgiveness that has been lost?
I see the anger. I feel the sadness. And heartache. But to top it all off - everyone wants everything in the entire world fixed overnight. Seemingly and literally.
But real and lasting change doesn’t work that way. Who can solve such complex issues?
Only you can bring about real change. Yes, that WHO - is YOU.
You - hold all the power.
You - hold the answers deep in your heart.
You - have to understand context and reality.
And - You - HAVE to give… You have to forGIVE. And that’s the only way out, and that’s the only way forward. Forgiveness.
But, beyond forgiveness, there is something much bigger, larger, grander, than any one human - of which you also have to give. And yes, you have the power to give it.
You have the power to give... the gift of Time.
These are big Asks. They are monumental. But wars and revolutions and cultural change and new ways of living are never won easily. And not without great sacrifice.
And you have to do ALL THAT - while having the strength and will power and patience and diligence to sit through the five hundred and forty page novel... And keep reading. While you’re tired. And when you don’t want to. And even when it gets really boring. And really, really sad.
The gift of TIME is a powerful thing. Of all the aspects in our technologically advanced society we are now home to here on Earth - Time is something we have yet to master. It is something that our infinite universe even doesn’t have the power to ultimately control. And it wants to - really bad.
As space and time unite in other worlds, and time itself is bent around curvatures of distant planets and stars and galaxies. Time is still there. It just flows differently. We may not recognize it there if we stumble across it way out there. But it is there. And it never ends. Time is in itself indestructible.
And TIME - holds many - and ALL the answers to this here little problem we are facing today.
So as the summer season began this year, in this year - 2020... And I beared-witness to sadness and heartache throughout the world with my own eyes and ears… I decided to give to myself - and you - something very special.
I gave Time.
I gave myself Time. I watched Time pass. I let Time flow all around me. I blew a wish into Time. I cursed in the face of Time. I yelled at Time. And I cried many tears - over Time.
But I also relished Time. I took advantage of Time. I used Time. I made deals with Time, and I placed bets with Time. I bargained with Time. And I even tried to manipulate Time to my advantage. I talked to Time. I listened to Time. I willed Time. I pleaded with Time. And ultimately, I let Time take over all five of my senses.
And I let come what may.
All through the passage of Time almighty.
Yes, it was because of both national and global events that seemingly ignited over that holiday and the days immediately afterward, that I stepped back from my online presence in the world for a while. A lot of people have asked when I’d be writing once again. As it has now been three months since my last publication to y’all.
I guess you could say I sorta closed up shop for a bit.
And I enjoyed a Splendid Summer Sabbatical.
Away. Away from publication. Away from deadlines. Away from technology in a sense.
Sure, I’ve been on social media. Yes, I’ve been perusing the internet - probably the same as most others in the world. Of course, I’ve been checking the news. I’ve been chatting with friends and family on Facebook. But it’s all been very brief. And as I escaped from technology on one hand, I delved deep into my new YouTube channel with my other. I gave my very own website a little break. And for some strange and unknown reason that God understands, I now crave the art of filmmaking. Of pasting together clips, to summarize a story. To show viewers the beauty that lies on the other end of my camera.
But for the most part, I lived entirely and exclusively OFF-line for a chunk of time.
I worked. On myself.
Yes, I still wrote. I still planned, and plotted. I filmed. I painted - and I painted with intention. And passion. And I painted purple. I painted “Blooms of Wartime” the nights of national and international heartache. The paint and color pouring onto the canvas. My reprieve from sadness overflowing in our world.
I prayed. I exercised. I sweated. I read.
Lots and lots and lots of books. Books of all sorts. Books made from paper - printed on wood from a tree. I read - not by the light of a Kindle. I flipped the pages and smelled the scent of ink and paper. And I rested my eyes far less on the blue screen, and more so on the invisible air around me.
I’ve done this all before. And I’ll do it all again. I’m not sorry in the least for stepping back. Because - Sometimes, you just need to go a different way. To regroup. Refocus. Reset the internal compass… to True North.
I lived my real and true Summer Sabbatical.
And I watched everything taking place around me.
And I highly recommend it.
In fact, I stayed so far away from the online world that I literally let my Macbook Air sit in a corner on a bookshelf and collect dust for quite some time. It sat there, for weeks upon weeks. It powered down. It lost all its energy and strength. I touched it not once.
It literally gathered wispy dust bunnies on top itself. As if a magnetic force. Trying desperately to maintain its power in this world, and to suck life out of the room, and life back into its own body. Dust pooled on top the shiny gold and reflective apple.
Yes - my precious and trusty laptop gathered as much dust as she could reasonably handle… until one day -
She finally screamed at me.
And I picked her up. Like a piece of sunken treasure.
And I plugged her into the wall.
And I breathed life back into her body. And began writing, once again.
So... yeah, while months ago I said goodbye to the online written word... And for someone who runs a website in 2020 - the internet is a very crucial thing to be nestled safely amidst. It was definitely risky to say goodbye to all that. But I love risk. And I loved saying goodbye for a while to the daily digital grind… of website maintenance.
I said goodbye to that oh-so-fancy, and lucrative, techy word - engagement.
I followed no statistical numbers on how my website was doing. I didn’t check my likes, my hearts, my comments, for quite some time.
And while I said goodbye to all of that and then some - I gave myself something in return. Something huge. Something as powerful as a black hole. I gave myself that funny thing called: TIME. The gift of Time.
I personally needed to process everything that was taking place in the world. In my own way. In my own Time. In my own head.
And none of that abides by a publication schedule. So, what the heck... I said goodbye to that while I was at it, too.
I know, I know, you’re saying that as a blogger I need to publish according to schedule. But - just because I wasn't on a publication schedule, with normal posting dates and times, doesn’t mean I couldn’t write. And didn’t mean I could no longer publish. It simply meant I put the ball even more so in my court than it was before. I won!
Yes, I won myself over, and I do win here, in a way. And I’m winning - while America is currently losing. And she’s losing - real bad.
I ache for what is happening in our beautiful and breathtaking and magnificent country. The country I write about. The air I breathe in. And the magnificent melting pot of people who live here under the flag of freedom.
I don’t have any answers to any of America’s problems right now. But I know one thing we can give her…. And we can give her this graciously…. Time. She needs Time.
Have you ever wondered why the Civil War did end up lasting from 1861 to 1865? Why did the war have to last that many years?
Wars are not won overnight - you say?
It took from 1861 until 1865 because the world needed from 1861 until 1865. Period.
What was solvable in 1865 had no context in 1861.
And as I mentioned way back at the beginning - context is crucial to any story. We don’t even know if we should be rooting for Jack Ryan - as he jumps out of the burning building - or not - unless we read the whole story. Is he the hero - or the villain - at that time? Is he jumping from the 98th floor, or from the 1st floor?
There is no magic wand that puts ideas into heads of the past. Thereby granting them the magical power of hindsight - to solve their worldly problems overnight, instead over the course of years.
But today - living in this digital, instant, speed-of-light lifestyle that humanity has enveloped itself in and gladly swallowed whole without checking for side effects first, there’s not a whole lot of room for TIME to actually do its thing, at the same time - no pun intended. Its - almighty and ever-powerful - thing - that may ultimately help - something. Anything.
We need time. Yes, and we need patience. We need MORE patience. We need to respect the virtue of patience more. And the only way to learn that is to give - yourself - time.
There’s an old saying that you may have heard in one form or another…
Fast change leads to no change. Or - Fast change is not lasting change.
In other words…the other old saying...
Slow change is the best change. Or - The only good and lasting change... is slow change.
And I’m not saying I necessarily agree or disagree with those sentiments in some way. I’m just saying those sayings are old because they themselves have withstood the test of their time.
And I am saying a new way of thinking is required to get past all of this heartache. I am saying risk and change are both good. But I am also saying that by stepping back for a few months - I respected that chunk of time. What I am writing to you today, I could not have written to you in the middle of the night, crying myself to sleep, three months ago.
After only one night grieving for our nation… no ideas were in my head to solve any of our problems that we continue to face.
But after three months of grieving for our nation… I have now - new - perspective. I have hindsight. I have reflection. I have brainstormed. I have contemplated. I have lived. And I have new thoughts. And ultimately, I have new ideas - only because of that precious and miraculous gift of time.
If you check my YouTube channel information page, you’ll see the date of release of my channel was just before all this sadness began in 2020. After the beginning of the pandemic - but just before our further national upsets that have triggered so much heartache across the world. And if there is one thing at all that 2020 has taught me, as well as my amazing life in Florida - that is to never give up. So, Memorial Day weekend came and went - my channel had just started publication - and then I punched out for that lucrative Summer Sabbatical.
BUT - I did NOT close up shop.
I did NOT delete everything I worked for. No…. No…. And that’s definitely something the old Christine would have done. I would have given up. And I would have hit the delete button. But, I have since learned of the power of perseverance. The power of patience. And most imperatively, that forgiving power of TIME.
So I did not hit DELETE. And I did NOT give up on my dreams.
I merely put the oxygen mask on myself first. And then simply breathed for a while as my airplane found a safer flying zone - so to speak.
Yes - I’m in this for the long haul. My website and branding and channels and social engagement is all still alive and there and breathing. And I respect the time and patience my dreams need in order to grow. Just as I value time itself. I value my very new and very small channel and my precious eight subscribers on YouTube. I am in no rush here. Nor would I want to be. I value where I am at presently, as much as I value life itself. And I will continue to give myself the gift of time. All. The. Time.
And I’ll do it again any day, and twice on Sunday.
Even if it's risky to my business. Even if I risk everything.
Because TIME is imperative.
And because, ultimately, my personal and business goal and my real DREAM of Christine’s Floridian Dreams - is to help you in any way to make your very own dreams come true. To kick you in the behind with some soft, yet, tough love, and persuade you to get off your couch. To pull off the covers… and get out of bed. Well before you want to. To: March Before You Feel Like It. And take your own action in this world. To live your very best life. Each and every single day. - And, yeah, twice on Sunday - just for the heck of it.
So, after three months of my summer sabbatical coming to a close, and after three months of thought and reflection and glancing into outer space... Dreaming of black holes that lead to other magical and distant worlds. I look out toward the sky and ponder…
There may be no better gift in the entire world for us to give to one another… as that seemingly magical gift of time.
So it is my hope for America today - that we all will grant her some time. That we all can exude the patience of saints. As wheels turn and flowers bloom. And as we sprinkle pumpkin spice on top of our latte foam.
America needs time to process everything, just as we all do. And just as I couldn’t do it all on night one, neither can the rest of the world do it in a few months. Everyone will have all their own ideas, at their very own pace, and at their own time.
We all have to make sense of things. We all have to process. We all have to give.
You may not see much giving in front of your own eyeballs right now, but know it’s there. Just as I know that black holes exist but I cannot see them for myself - I do know there is more goodness in this world than bad. More love than hate. And more forgiveness than we think we have within us to give.
So go ahead and give yourself some time. Shut down that iPhone. Say goodbye to your blog subscribers if need be. Say hello to a new way of doing business.
Yes - close your laptop - a very needed tool in our dearly beloved 2020. Close it up and let it gather a bunch of dust bunnies if need be.
Stop receiving - stop Receiving texts and likes and hearts and follows and tweets… and Give instead. Give to others in the format of real life. And NOT with the Like button.
How? In your own way.
Give… to yourself. And Give… to America. And the world.
And after a new chunk of time - time far into the future from right now and today - I can only hope that we will all look back upon this time period. And we will have that new perspective. A perspective unavailable today due to the vast and mighty power of time. And it is my sincere hope that I have been all wrong here. That we are NOT really at war with one another, or on the verge of. That the shot heard round the world of today has not been released from its trigger. And that war was not in our future together. And that instead we all came together. And we saved burning forests and trees and buildings. We salvaged all the plastic in the oceans and the baby sea turtles thanked us by swimming freely into the ocean. We breathed clean and non-suffocating air. We made true and lasting and realistic reforms to challenges that we are currently facing. That school children twenty, fifty, one hundred years from now will study the numbers 2020 in mesmerization of what we SOLVED - together… Oh so very long ago. And we all walked down the street hand in hand. And not gun to gun. Weapon to weapon. Evil to Evil. Hate to Hate.
Heck - I’ll still welcome those aliens I mentioned earlier, with wide open arms. Besides, those aliens... they do come in peace. Duh!
No it’s Love to Love that I’m rooting for inside my brain.
But, as an old adage and quite familiar saying so goes… Only time will tell, my friends. Yes - Only time will tell. So give her some time, why don’t ya? Just give all of it and then some - Time. ~
10/25/2019 0 Comments
Living in Florida, it can be hard to notice the changing of the seasons. I sometimes need to use the drink menu at coffee shops to gauge where we are at on the calendar.
And right now, whether we know it or not, it’s still Autumn.
And besides driving past a set-up pumpkin patch display in front of a local church the other day, the only change I’ve seen in all the weeks since fall has officially started, is with the drink menu offering all those special, seasonal additions at coffee shops and grocery stores. The most famous of those seasonal drinks being, of course, the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, McDonalds, and Dunkin Donuts (Dunkin makes a delicious pumpkin donut by the way).
The only other seasonal change I notice here is specifically in Orlando - where Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party has been taking place at the Magic Kingdom now - since August… Yes - you read that right - August. Visitors dressed in their Halloween costumes, trick-or-treating down the festively decorated Main Street USA, since the middle of our hot and Endless Summer.
Considering I lost massive weight this past year and am extremely interested and determined to maintain that healthy lifestyle, when all the seasonal pumpkin drinks started to appear on the coffee shop menus, I really wanted to know how many calories are floating around inside those highly-flavored drinks. Well, the news is not so good:
***380 calories for a Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks (!)
***310 calories for a medium Pumpkin Spice Latte at McDonald’s (!)
***420 calories for a medium whole milk Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Signature Latte at Dunkin Donuts (!!!)
The amount of calories in just a single one of those drinks is now an entire meals worth of calories for me. I absolutely cannot even imagine drinking that much sweetness at once anymore. So, to help me maintain weight loss, I have been sticking with my usual unsweetened iced tea, or plain, black coffee this season.
It took me a little while, over a year ago now, but I am very used to ‘plain’ drinks now. Just the thought of ordering one of those lattes makes my stomach turn around. It’s definitely a good thing for my overall health that I don’t even really want or desire those drinks anymore, and I have also learned and acquired a few other wonderful and simple ways of feeling and enjoying the scents of fall without all the extra calories that can go along with it.
Below I’ll explain a variety of ways I’m acknowledging and enjoying the change of season while watching my calorie intake. These are just a few simple ways I am enjoying all that the Autumn season has to offer, without gaining weight, maintaining my weight loss, and not overindulging at all.
Specifically, here are six simple ways I’m enjoying Autumn 2019:
Yes, they come first! Because as they say - candles set the mood. And indeed they do. I went out and purchased a few pumpkin scented candles (room sprays work well for this too) and the scent in my home reminds me of all at fall has to offer. I think of hay rides, picking pumpkins, carving those pumpkins, and the scent of homemade pumpkin pie. And the bonus is that breathing in that heavenly scent doesn’t put one extra calorie into my mouth!
And since I’ve personally been staying away from Bath & Body Works for a few years now, I shopped around for the best autumn scented candles I could find. I enjoyed browsing around my local Pier 1, admiring all the adorable seasonal decor. And I purchased two three-wick pumpkin spice candles on sale for ten dollars each. I thought that was a reasonable price and keeps me away from Bath & Body Works where I used to spend too much money. And because I love candles so much, we picked out some autumn-scented candles at Target as well.
2 ~ I Avoid ALL The Seasonal Drinks - ALL THE TIME
This one is a no-brainer for me. For me - myself - and I - I’ve personally been staying absolutely away from all those high-calorie drinks that happen to be advertised everywhere I look.
I stick with my usual drink order. I do NOT indulge in drinks that have calories attached. My usuals are plain water, water with lemon or lime, always ice cold; plus, plain hot coffee, and hot or iced tea. Club soda or sparkling water. Period. Zero calories drinks. I do not indulge in that department. It works for me. It’s become a lifestyle for me and once something is lifestyle it’s easier to maintain. I do recommend trying it out.
Plus, in place of all those high calorie drinks, I purchased myself an Alex & Ani ‘Pumpkin Spice’ spice bracelet that I’ve had my eye on since last autumn - and I wear it every day. I enjoy IT - and not the extra calories it implies.
3 ~ Get A Real Pumpkin
So simple, right? By purchasing a real pumpkin, which can go for under ten dollars, and small ones, just a couple dollars at the grocery store, you get to enjoy the purest symbol of autumn, every single day. And if you get yours by visiting a pumpkin patch, all the better!
And, pumpkins always look fabulous sitting on the front porch, balcony, or lounging in front of a fireplace mantel.
Plus, you can turn the pumpkin into a project by then painting it or carving it out.
4 ~ Bake Pumpkin Seeds At Home
After we purchase our chosen pumpkin and enjoy the sight of it, on Halloween we carve the pumpkin and scoop it out. Then we bake the seeds in the oven. I always enjoy the scent that is released when carving open the pumpkin… Always so fresh, and smells like a pumpkin patch.
I first clean and rinse the seeds, then lay them on a baking sheet on top of non-stick foil with some sea salt sprinkled on top, and bake the pumpkin seeds in the oven. After they are finished being toasted, the seeds have a taste that cannot be replicated by any store-bought seeds. There is always something most refreshing about toasting the seeds on my own. It tastes better, fresher, and it really is. Plus, pumpkin seeds are one of those autumn delights that are very healthy! No weight gain on this one - in fact, eating nuts and seeds is a fantastic way of maintaining my weight loss.
5 ~ Eat the Seasonal Chicken Pot Pie - Just NOT The One Costco Sells
With fall comes an abundance of warm and seasonal recipes, like chili… and chicken pot pie. Every autumn I used to look forward to the seasonal changes at Costco by picking up one of their chicken pot pies. We would cook it for dinner and use the leftovers for lunches and dinners throughout the week. But most store-bought chicken pot pies, including Costco’s extremely large pie, are loaded with tons of calories that I do not need or intake anymore after weight loss. The chicken may be healthy, the veggies inside the pie may also be healthy - but the rest of that pie is definitely NOT healthy. And at 525 calories per ⅙ slice, the pie is extremely high in calories.
So, I’ve decided that with fall, I can still enjoy the seasonal meal of chicken pot pie. I’m just NOT purchasing the Costco version. I don’t need to give up the food. I just need to enjoy it in a more healthy manner. I’m also staying away from the easy-bake Marie Callender's version - which has a whopping 600 calories - in the smaller version!
Instead, on a busy week, we now grab Blake’s Pot Pie. It’s in the freezer section, has 370 calories per pie, and tastes just as good as any other store-bought version. I serve it with a side of steamed green beans, and an easy, healthy, and low-calorie dinner is ready in a flash.
I haven’t had the time this season to make a healthy and homemade version though, so if you have a chicken pot pie recipe that you make I’d absolutely love for you to share it with me in the comments below - please!
6 ~ Indulge - Without Overindulging
Yes, I still eat the pie. I just don’t eat ALL the pie. We bought a pumpkin pie two times this season from the local Winn Dixie. I can enjoy a slice, or two, even including whip cream on the side. But I don’t eat pie all the time, and don’t worry at all if we don’t finish the whole pie before it goes bad. And yes, I absolutely have thrown out the leftover pie, and more than once. I’m not ashamed.
I try not to waste food, but a part of weight loss and weight maintenance is knowing that some food WILL GO TO WASTE. I freeze what I can, I portion out for other meals what I can, I plan ahead like crazy. But there are still some times that food will be thrown away. And part of this pumpkin pie that we purchased did make it to the garbage can. Without my feeling any guilt or feeling bad that food was wasted. If you are looking to lose weight, or to maintain massive weight loss like I am maintaining, you will likely run into having to throw some food away. I have accepted this and do the very best I can not to, but with treats it does happen.
I have learned how to indulge - without overindulging. That means some food waste, some times. Part of my weight loss is allowing myself to continue to have all the treats that I love. In moderation. How can I let autumn pass me by without a piece or two of pumpkin pie? I can’t. I have to be able to eat the “normal” seasonal foods that I love without overindulging. Without - missing out. As they say, yes - everything in moderation.
Although, as I mentioned above, I do not drink all the fancy and high-calorie coffee drinks anymore. The difference there is lifestyle. I have removed any and all high calorie drinks from my entire lifestyle. So I am used to not having them anymore. To the point that the thought makes me ill just thinking about having one of them. I have very successfully removed those drinks from my life. That’s a choice I made. But I love desserts and treats too much to give them up entirely. I WILL continue to eat desserts - a choice by me to keep them IN my lifestyle. Desserts and treats remain. Which is why I moderate, and why I still eat pumpkin pie, and why I am ok with and understand that some of that dessert will end up in the garbage.
And yes, as the saying goes... “Better in the trash, than sitting on my *ss.”
Here are a few other ways I’m enjoying the season…
So even though I don’t drink all those amazingly fun and delicious autumn-themed drinks anymore, I do watch for their arrival onto the menu each autumn as a way to gauge what season I am currently living in. And then, I go about my usual routine. Adding in the flavors of fall in a very healthy, and very sustainable way. ~
Yes! Autumn is here! I wouldn’t really know it by glancing at the environment around me though. The seasonal changes I’m surrounded by are very difficult to notice within my natural environment. It does not cool down outside - I don’t bring out my favorite warm blankets from the back of the linen closet. I don’t unload my bin of clothing for colder weather; in fact, no such bin exists in my closet anymore. And I haven’t ordered any pumpkin spice lattes yet this season either. I’m just waiting for even one slightly ‘cool’ day to order a hot drink; for now I’m sticking with my usual iced tea.
When I first moved down here a few years ago in the springtime, I was very curious about how I would witness the seasons changing in Florida compared to experiencing four very real and legitimate seasonal changes that take place annually in Illinois. That first spring here was heaven on Earth. Sunny every day - perfect weather - blue sky. I was outside all the time. The funny thing was that everyone, and I mean everyone I met during that first season here said that they hoped the weather would improve for us to enjoy it. I was sooooo very and desperately confused. Here I was in perfect weather - it was still snowing in Illinois. I really didn’t know what these people all meant??? It took time for me to understand. Time, and experiencing the seasonal changes for myself. What was there to improve? The weather was literally perfect!
It was then that I learned about Florida cold fronts. If it was a nice 85 or let’s say 86 degrees outside, and then a cold front came through, dropping the average weekly temperature to a very low and very cold 83 degrees, everyone hoped for a warm front. Everyone spoke of the cold front. Everyone talked about hoping the weather would improve. When will the weather improve? That’s exactly what was happening during my first season here, it was a perfect and ideal temperature, calm weather. But maybe it was 83, instead of the more ideal 85? It was enough for me to be drinking coffee outside, when in Illinois I still would have been wearing winter clothes. But to Floridians, it was cold out.
After three years, if the wind is blowing just right I too get cold now sometimes when the dashboard reads 85 degrees... and I laugh every time… Never thought it would happen to me. I’m truly acclimated to the Floridian climate, and it happened quite fast too. So during that first year living through fantastic and then even more fantastic weather, the seasons blew in and out barely even with me noticing a change.
So how does one mark all the seasonal changes in a place where the weather stays practically perfect in every way, year round? The seasons were always tied to weather for me in the past; now, I relate seasons to the events themselves that take place during and within a season.
I learned real quick that if I wanted to enjoy fall in the Sunshine State, the best way for me to acknowledge such a seasonal change living in my new home was to put out a pumpkin scented candle… and maybe some autumn themed dish towels placed strategically in the kitchen. That way, every day when I walk in the kitchen, I look at a pumpkin towel and say to myself, oh yeah, that’s right, it’s Fall. Other than that, I could still drink my coffee outside, swim in the ocean, and drive with the windows rolled down, even though the autumnal equinox could be long since passed.
Maybe I could change the color or style of my swimsuit instead of getting out some autumn sweaters? Should I change the color of my purse, or the style of wreath hung upon my front door? Some or all of the above do help the transition. Today I put out my favorite ceramic white and orange pumpkin candle holders on my kitchen table. I even purchased a burnt orange tank top to wear this season instead of buying a burnt orange sweater.
Back in Illinois I thoroughly enjoyed the changing color of the leaves and then the falling leaves later in the season. I loved fall. Sometimes I thought it was my favorite season? I embraced the warmer days and cooler evenings. Evenings cool enough at the beginning of autumn to leave the window open at night. But later in the season the windows were closed, and then remained tightly shut for the remainder of fall and winter. And every year, usual mid-to-late fall, there reached a point where it always became officially much too cold in the house. And then, just like clockwork, the annual debate began of discussing how long can we last until we turn on the heat for the first time that season. It was a running joke, how cold can we sleep at night? At what point before it becomes unbearable and much too cold in the house to focus on anything else but how cold it is? I’d pull out layers upon layers of blankets to place upon the bed to help prolong our time in a house without the heat running. And we tried to function in the house during the day. It was a test of will, and stubbornness. I would not want to give in first. Like a child trying not to blink in a staring contest, sitting across from my friendly opponent, who is also trying desperately not to blink. Who will blink, my husband or me? Which one of us will be the one to turn the heat on? Who will break first? Usually my stubbornness would win out and my husband would be the one switching the heat to ON. His excuse would be that he wouldn’t want the pipes to start freezing. And that is exactly where my love of all things fall end. And I’d think to myself, is fall really my favorite season? Forget the cold, I’ll take the Florida sun any day.
I recently heard someone say that Florida is ‘Bizzaro World.’ And that only in Florida do we celebrate Halloween in August (at Walt Disney World). And that as fall comes round every year how else would we even know that autumn has even arrived unless we ‘force the sh*t out of fall’... I laughed hysterically and could not agree more with that statement. Maybe fall still is my favorite?...
So, in honor of acknowledging and celebrating the changing of the seasons, I’m ‘forcing the sh*t out of fall’ today with my pumpkin decor and pumpkin scented candles. I even hung an autumn themed dish towel in the kitchen. There - I’ve done it. Box checked. Season changed; season acknowledged. Time for people to keep on swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, and soaking in that sun. Enjoy the morning coffee outside on the front porch, eat dinner outside at the local fish camp, watch the turtles, gators, and snakes enjoy their natural surroundings. The globe will keep spinning and rotating onward. And we can all acknowledge and celebrate its angle of rotation once again during the winter equinox come December, on the beach, maybe with a peppermint latte sitting next to me in the sand. ~~~
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