Look Back Before You Look Forward

As one year closes and another is about to dawn upon us, many of us are looking ahead with resolutions, dreams, and plans.

Some people are naturally more future-oriented, others prefer stay focused in the present, and others look back often on the past. May I recommend that in heading into a New Year, each of us take a cue from all three perspectives?

To enhance your present and future joy, before diving into dreaming and planning ahead, glance back over your shoulder – not just at the year that is closing – but at that long and winding road that brought you to this time and place.

Something beautiful happens when you do…

Dramatic sky over road in a valley.

Take a few moments to let your mind wander down the road of your life, thinking back on your mountain-top experiences, as well as all the valleys you’ve traversed through.

As you think on these things, you realize that God has been there for you all along. And has guided you each step of the way with such faithfulness, provision, love and care. Even in those times when you were in the wilderness of your life (and we’ve all had those).

Allow an attitude of gratitude to release praise and thanksgiving from your heart. Take some time to truly thank God. There may be a few tears that flow also. If so, let ’em roll. Thank Him for all the good times and for all the character-shaping hard times also.

Thank Him for the people you’ve met on your journey, and for those you’ve yet to meet; for the experiences you’ve had, for where you are right now, and for experiences still to come.

The beauty in looking back before you look forward is that it gives you a fresh perspective: you think differently about the past, the present, and the future.

You realize that there is a reason for your life and a master plan that God has just for you.

This is reason enough to be filled with hope, peace, and joy for the future.

But there’s more:

With this perspective of meaning, you will find yourself inclined to dream and create more fulfilling plans and resolutions for this coming year that affect you, of course, but also that affect others in a positive way.

This kind of journey in life has been shown to the most satisfying to the soul and will leave you with a smile on your face during, and at the end, of your life.

So enhance your joy today, take some time this end-of-year to look back on the road of your life before you look forward.

Then prepare to experience the exciting things that God has in store for you in 2017.

Here’s to a wonderful year ahead for you!

Kim

Mediterranean Diet for Health & Weight Loss

Grilled-Salmon

Tasty and delicious, full of healthy ingredients, and the bonus: Weight loss.

Losing 10 lbs. in 4 months – while feeling great and knowing it’s good for my heart and health – I’m a fan of the Mediterranean diet.

Though I’ve been preparing Mediterranean dishes quite often (I collect Mediterranean cookbooks!) for several years now for the taste, health benefits, and the fun of cooking this style of food, I decided that in order to get serious about weight loss, I would incorporate it on daily basis – creating a diet that would work for me – and I’m delighted with the result!

What are the major themes of a Mediterranean diet?

Mediterranean-Montage

  • Protein from fish, chicken, lamb, eggs, and legumes (lentils, chickpeas, etc.)
  • Heart-healthy fats and omega-3s from olive oil, olives, fish, flaxseed
  • Fiber, vitamins, and minerals from fruit and veggies, nuts, figs, dates, honey
  • Calcium from yogurt, feta, parmesan, and other cheeses. (And some milk).
  • Fabulous assortments of herbs and spices, such as ginger, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, cloves, fennel, nutmeg, marjoram, basil, lemon, mint, etc.

 

Lamb-&-Lentil-Soup-with-Olive-&-Grilled-Eggplant-Tartlets

So, what does Kim’s mostly-Mediterranean Diet look like?

Here are some examples:

Breakfast:

1 free-range egg sautéed in olive oil, 1/3 cup spinach, and 1/2 spelt English muffin with a dash of butter and honey. 1/2 medium, or one small, banana.

Or:

A smoothie with a combination of a few fruits and veggies such as: peaches, mango, melon, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, banana, avocado, cucumber, plus 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, splash of organic milk, freshly-grated ginger, cinnamon, tablespoon of finely ground flaxseed; add chopped almonds/pecans or muesli sprinkled on top.

Peach-Mango-Avocado-Cuc-Smoothie

Drink:

1-2 cups of hot water  (plain or with ginger and/or lemon in it).

1 cup of a high-quality tea. (For calorie cut-back, I drink it black; though occasionally reverting to my British roots, I enjoy a cup of tea with milk).

Coffee (black, when dieting; white, when maintaining). Cappuccino / latté on weekends.

Mid-morning:

2 squares of dark chocolate or a biscotti  (with a second cup of coffee).

A pot of jasmine pearl tea, 1 tablespoon of honey swirled in the pot.

Lunch:

A delicious plate containing a combination of some of the following:

  • Salmon, kippered herring, or a similar high omega-3 fish
  • Falafel or hummus
  • Avocado – 1/2, sliced
  • Cucumber, slow-roasted tomatoes with olive oil and basil, or other salad veggies
  • Artichokes, cooked and chopped, sometimes in olive oil
  • Olive Tapenade or some Kalamata / Black olives
  • Bruschetta spread
  • Muhammara spread (roasted Red Pepper, Walnuts, Pomegranate juice) – delish!
  • Yogurt with mint
  • Pita Bread – 1/2
  • Sardinian Parchment Crackers – from Trader Joe’s / WholeFoods – how did I ever survive without them?

Mediterranean Lunch - Homemade Falafel

Drink: Juice mixed with sparkling mineral water, or glass of cucumber/ginger water.

Cucumber Water

Cup of Rooibos tea (this time with milk) and a couple of dates, figs, chocolate-covered walnuts, ginger biscotti, or some kind of after- lunch treat.

Mid-afternoon:

Melon, Mangoes, Apple, or other fruit or healthy snack (no more than 100-150 calories).

Drink: Glass of water and/or decaf tea/coffee.

Dinner:

4 oz serving of Fish, Chicken, Lamb, or Beef, with various vegetables, perhaps a Ratatouille or similar use of Eggplant and Tomatoes or other veggies, and small serving of rice pilaf or pasta, or grated cauliflower, with flavorful herbs and spices. An example might be: Lamb Ravioli, Moroccan Chicken with Saffron, Fennel or Rice Pilaf (I have my Persian friend, Zinat, to thank for the introduction of aromatic, anise-flavored, ground fennel spice in rice – fabulous!), Grilled Chicken/Hot Hummus Salad in Pita, or other similar Med-style dishes.

Or:

Lamb and Greek Lentil soup, or another meat/vegetable/legume soup.  1/2 Olive Bread Roll or crackers.

 

Or:

1/2 small Feta and Spinach pizza or 1/4 of a 12-inch homemade Chicken pizza with a variety of Mediterranean veggies on top. Super thin crisp organic flour or gluten-free crust, light on the cheese, olive oil and slow-roasted tomatoes as a base – perfecto!

Dessert:

Serving of Greek yogurt with fruit and a drizzle of honey, or another healthy dessert, with a cup of Rooibos tea with milk.

Evening Snack:

1/2 spelt English muffin with butter/honey, or small bowl of cereal with dash of milk.

Chamomile tea (2 cups)

Water

That’s it and I’m off to bed, happy and satiated at about 1000-1200 calories per day.

Note: obviously this works for me, but you may need more calories depending on your stature and needs. I also take some important vitamins to make sure I’m getting all needed nutrients. BTW, I keep an eye on my daily calories in an easy little app on my Android phone (Simple Calorie Count).

You might think this takes a bit of discipline to stay on this type of diet for several months – but it’s SO easy and delicious that I’m not inclined to stray from it too much.

It took a few weeks before I saw any change, then – ‘wham’ the pounds started falling off. Now I have the next ten pounds in my sights, a dream I had all but given up on!

The wonderful thing about the smells and flavors of the Mediterranean diet – it’s as if you’re exploring the villages of Tuscany, the markets of Jerusalem, or the shores of Sardinia, without leaving home.

Tuscan-Street-Cafe

So, if you want to lose a few pounds and maintain a healthy diet, while enjoying great taste,  may I recommend the Mediterranean diet?

And hey, after you lose your desired weight, why not celebrate with a latté and teeny chocolate éclair? Latte-and-Chocolate-Eclair

Cheers, my friends. I raise my sparkling water glass to you and hope you’re enjoying the blessings of a bountiful harvest yourself. We have much to thank God for!

Bon Appétit!

Kim

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The Lost Art of Quiet Time

The stillness of the morning. The mist is rising and the dawn is breaking…

You stretch a little upon waking, then wander to the window and gaze out in quietness, while down the hall the coffee pot brews your morning coffee. Maybe you sit up in bed for a while to think, or put on your robe and find a cozy chair to focus in quietness and contemplation before the day begins. Winter-Scene

Sound like you? No? Does it sound like any of us anymore?

Or, do you wake, stretch, and then check your smartphone for text messages, switch on your tablet or laptop and begin scrolling social media sites, perhaps turning on the T.V. on at the same time, while somehow reaching for your morning coffee in the haze of so much ‘noise’.

My question is this – if quiet time is becoming a lost art, are we losing something precious in this age of ‘always-on’ technology?

I’m convinced we are. We could say this is the ‘neglect of our time’ (excuse the double-entendre). And it’s causing a multitude of problems. It’s time we stopped the craziness and evaluated exactly what is happening to us.

I’m as technology-savvy as the rest of us, and even teach social media strategies as part of my job, but I also know that our brains need some rest and quiet time. Our body, soul and spirit need it too. And yet, we are giving them very little of it.

I, for one, have decided not allow this trend of ‘always on’ to steal my soul. By not turning on my electronic devices, checking social media or email, etc., upon waking, until after I’ve had time to gather my thoughts, read, pray, think, listen, evaluate and renew my spirit, I can truly have some important quiet time. Then let the business of the day proceed.

Man-in-ContemplationThere are some things too precious to be side-lined by the ‘always on’ social media phenomena. If we don’t have some quality time daily to renew mind and soul, we will be nothing but robotic tech-captives, empty on the inside, and with little to give others of true value. We can’t run forever on empty, and live a fulfilling life.

Perhaps you, too, have a quiet time each day. If so, that’s awesome. If not, and you long for one, this might be a good time to start and watch how it contributes to your quality of life. For me, early morning works best, but it could be different for you – perhaps mid-morning, noon, or late in the evening, for instance – whatever time you choose, creating a quiet time habit will contribute greatly to your peace of mind in this busy time we live in.

I challenge you to discover, or re-discover, the lost art of quiet time for yourself and watch what it does for your physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being – and for those people that you interact with each day. You, and they, will notice the difference!

Here’s to you, and joy on the journey!

Refresh, Renew, Regenerate

Changing Seasons

As I watch the final leaves fall from the trees in our garden – after a windstorm last night – I pondered on the reason for the season changes.

Some people view this as a sad time of year, but actually, it has some amazing benefits.

Three words come to mind:

  • Refresh
  • Renew
  • Regenerate

Leaves, which, during the warmer times of year, were an asset (providing needed photosynthesis and coverage), during the winter become a liability when light is less, and could likely freeze with snow, becoming too heavy and breaking the branches.

If the leaves aren’t shed once a year, the tree could be seriously damaged, or even die.

If they don’t fall from the trees, we might be looking at dead leaves next season.

If the old leaves are not removed, there is no room for new growth.

Dropping the leaves allows the tree to solidify it’s core. It’s going through a needed cycle.

Sometimes we need to shed things in our lives that, although at seasons are an asset, if we hang on to them at later times, become a liability.

There are things that are core to our lives, and there are things that are extraneous. And at various seasons in our lives, these could change.

What is core in your life? And what are you hanging on to, or adding to your life, that is weighing you down?

Sometimes we need to take a seasonal look at what needs to change, what habits and other things need to be shed from our lives, so that we can make room for new growth.

If we don’t shed some necessary things occasionally, the winds of life may facilitate it for us. It seems to me that being a proactive participant in this is preferable!

Take some time this season to be refreshed, renewed, and regenerated. You’ll find the next season will be so much better.

Peace Like a River

Hasn’t the world seemed a little crazy lately? Turmoil and trouble everywhere on the international and domestic scene.

While we view the news headlines with furrowed brows, we crave peace, don’t we? Not just around us, but inside us also.

Did you know that God has promised that you can have “peace like a river”?

Who doesn’t enjoy relaxing under the shade of a tree on a late summer’s day, breathing in the fresh breeze, and gazing at a river’s gentle ripples? Beautiful. Peaceful.

Rivers are continuously flowing. Regardless of activity around, or in, them, they continue on. Nothing seems to adversely affect them, water flows on, either in a gentle meander or a spirited over-the-rocks forward movement.

Perhaps that’s why God used the metaphor “peace like a river” to describe the peace He has for us. Isaiah 48:18 indicates that we can have this flowing peace, if we listen to, and obey, the voice of God: “Oh that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river…”

So many people spend their lives searching for peace – in all the wrong places. Craving peace, they search everywhere BUT God to find it, not understanding that a troubled world doesn’t have the capability to give them peace.

However the source of peace is found in the Prince of Peace Himself, as Jesus promised: “My peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27.

What I love about God’s peace is that regardless of circumstances, we can have a quietness inside, a peace that continuously flows “like a river.” The world may be in turmoil, but we are not.

Want peace? It’s yours if you’ll ask for it. Seek it from the Prince of Peace, and sit on the river bank of His love and grace today.