CREATING YOUR BEST LIFE FROM THE INSIDE OUT.
MIND, BODY, AND SOUL.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Trimming Up - Giving Up Processed Foods

Originally I began this blog to post my progress through my Happiness Project, inspired by Gretchen Rubins book "The Happiness Project". 

I have come to realize, I am easily sidetracked.

Don't get me wrong.  I progressed through "A" happiness project.  It just was not the original plan I had outlined.  The story of my life... most everything DOES NOT go as planned.  Haha!

It really is not a bad thing.  My life has still gone well.  I still became better. 

Here I am, three years later.  My life is completely different.

And the best part... I am happy.

I am not happy because things are going well.  I am happy because I am choosing to be happy. 

What I have come to realize over the years... I get to focus on the things I can change.  I get to focus on how to keep progressing through to an even better life, while STILL enjoying the one I have RIGHT NOW.

Saying all of this, I have a new plan.

When I began this journey over three years ago, I started by cutting out processed foods and exercising more.  I became a more healthier me and that has been a great foundation to get me to where I am now.

 On Monday of this week, I cut out most of the processed foods again.  It is not because I am unhealthy.  It is because I want to take that next step.  I want to go even further than I did three years ago. 

I have stayed the same for three years, aside from one small difference.

I began lifting heavier weights about six months ago.  I have been consistent for five days a week for nearly six months and I love the toned look my body is beginning to show.  I love that my legs and arms are stronger. 

It is exhilarating to feel more athletic. 

Now I really want to take that further and shrink the layer of fat that loves to hold on around my waist, arms and back.  It isn't much, but it is enough.

I am ready for that next step and I am excited to take on this challenge.  I will become even healthier.  I will become even stronger.  I will become far more toned than I have ever been.

I love pastas and breads and muffins, etc, etc, etc.  Three years ago I gave those up and I have been better about not over consuming these muffin top creators.  I gave up soda as well and I rarely have my beloved Dr. Pepper any more.  This time will be easier than last time, because I kept up the change in my eating habits.

Here begins a new journey and I expect everyone around me to hold me to it.  The goal is one month.  One month with rare consumption of anything processed.  No potato chips, no breads, no crackers or cookies, etc. 

I began on April 20th and I will finish on May 19th.  This will give my body a whole month to jump start into an even healthier mode. I will update throughout the month (without overkill) and then give the final results when it is over.
And maybe, just maybe I can refocus this blog back onto the happiness project!  Or better yet, let it be wild and free and take on the life it really deserves.

Until next time!  Cheers!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dear Sweet Utah Drivers

I have to admit, I make mistakes driving just like the next person.  But dear God, what is wrong with some of these drivers.

Honestly, I have lived in Utah most of my life, so I am not sure if we are the worst.  California has its moments and so does Nevada.  When I lived in New York, you either learned to be aggressive or the drivers out there would eat you for lunch.

So... there is that.

But Utah drivers... it is different.  We are downright rude.

Today was an experience.  I have them every so often with my fellow drivers.  And I had to take a moment and ask myself, what was my part in this charade.

If I had just driven a bit slower as I was merging onto the commuter lane.  Then the man who ended up behind me, would have passed me.  He would have not grated on my nerves as he tailgated me all the way to the end of the commuter lane.

THEN when we were stopped at the next stoplight, I would have not laughed at him when his car stalled, after the light turned green.

That is where I ultimately went wrong.

Karma reared its head, turned its evil beady eyes towards me and asked, "So you thought that was funny, did ya?

At that point, I knew I had screwed up.

Why is it so hard for me to just keep my laughing to myself?

Getting on the freeway was my doom, which was shortly after my uncalled for laughing.  I drove up the ramp on the two lane entrance and began to merge with the other cars next to me as it became one lane.

Either I learned the wrong way to merge or the driver who was behind me and in the right lane was being a complete jackass.  As soon as he saw me begin my merge (OH because the law says I HAVE to) he sped up and ATTEMPTED to pass me.  BUT I had already began my merge and he had a BIG cement wall on his side.

This is the kicker.

He slammed on his brakes when he realized he could not pass me and HONKED at me!  As if I was the one doing it wrong.  I must have learned the incorrect way to merge.  Not to mention the other two cars that were ahead of me.  They must have learned the wrong way as well.

To top it off, I had to get all juvenile and frustrated and I FLIPPED HIM OFF.

Damn.

Where did that come from?

The last time I flipped someone off (while driving) was over fifteen years ago.

Geez, he must have really grated my nerves.

Once we merged onto the freeway like adults, he swerved past me into the middle lane, sped past with not even a glance in my direction AND then pulled into the left lane, cutting off another driver.  That driver had to swerve and slam on his brakes.

Look at what I had started with my stupid laughing!

That driver was not going to be outdone.  He sped up, moved into the carpool lane and pulled up to the the dip wad who thought he owned the road.  I kept a safe distance away and SLOWED down.  The best decision I had made thus far.

Awe, the ripple effect.

I should have kept my laughing to myself OR better yet I should have just driven a bit slower and let the first driver pass me so he could be stuck between me and the other car on the commuter lane.

The end.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Living In the Moment

I was going through some old blog posts of mine from my first blog, Niki's Odds and Ends and I ran across this one.  Considering how much my life has changed in the past five years, I felt this post was extra beneficial for myself and hopefully others as well.  I hope you enjoy!

Okay I know... everyone talks about this. Maybe because it is such a great topic! 

I am writing about it because I recently read an article from “Single Dad Laughing” blog on this very topic. I was quite impressed by what he had to say, but I think it was a bit of an overload for myself. Here is the link:

http://www.danoah.com/2010/11/before-number-changes.html

Check it out and see for yourself. It might be life changing for you or you might be a bit overwhelmed like I was. My head had a difficult time wrapping itself around what he was saying.

I have gone to a self help group where they stressed the same topic, along with listening to several different speakers like Dr. Wayne Dyer and Eckhart Tolle. I believe these authors are extremely intelligent and they inspire me every time I listen to them, but I like it in more simple terms.

Here goes:

When I am not worried about time and I am living in the now, just doing what I love to do or staying focused on the tasks on hand, this is when I am the most productive. 

Whether it is exercising, playing with my kids, cleaning my house, painting walls, writing or anything I can think of, I am able to get MORE done if I do not worry about the time. 

I can see the power of living in the now. I know it can seem weird when someone says “time does not exist” or “the past does not exist”. In my opinion (I could be completely wrong, which is not unusual) it is just their way of explaining the power of living in the now and not staying stuck in the past or worrying about the future. There is no point to either one of those.


 Remaining stuck in the past could make a person feel a constant victim because of the things in the past which hurt them or it can keep someone from moving on from sad times in their lives or even more happy times in their lives. 

Why would someone want to leave a time that was far more happy? 

I get why it would be hard at times, but to progress in life it is absolutely necessary. Life should be taken as one lesson after another. Some times they are happy lessons and other times they are horrible, painstaking lessons, but nonetheless they are lessons for us to grow and learn from so we can continue to progress. 

Saying “the past does not exist” would say everything I have learned to get me to be the person I am today does not exist, therefore the strengths I have gathered do not exist. 

Allowing the hardships to become lessons and learning to move on despite the pain is a way to become a better person right now, in this very moment.  I could take those lessons and progress because of them and realize that was all they were or I could be stuck back in those lessons forever feeling imprisoned by the sadness in my life.

Now I love to day dream... silly huh! 

I like to think of life when I accomplish the goals I have in my mind. I don’t do it often, but when I do it is my time to let go of reality as I now know it. Some people would say I am not being realistic, but I say phooey on them. 

Take Walt Disney... didn’t it all start with a dream? 

I believe if you take away someone’s dreams you take away their motivation and desire to be better in all areas of their lives. The future has not happened yet and it rarely turns out exactly the way we want it to be... usually it is better, at least for me. However, those dreams motivate me and they get me moving when I am too tired or too worn out from a long day of work, kids, chauffeuring, cleaning, etc. 
 
I say there is nothing wrong with dreaming, as long as a person keeps it in perspective and knows in order to get from point A to point B, they have to work hard while enjoying every step along the way.

One more point on living in the now... Have you ever noticed how you feel when you are in the middle of a dangerous and exhilarating amusement park ride?

I know I feel like I am on top of the world!

I am laughing, screaming and enjoying every moment of it. Take the Tower of Terror at Disneyland. I love that ride! The whole time I am IN the now and enjoying the ride moment to moment to moment. 

We pay A LOT of money to feel this way. However, although it might not be as exhilarating, actually focusing on being in the now more often then not can give you a very similar experience. It is a very HAPPY and CONTENT feeling. A JOY which can be felt constantly as long as you choose to live 
moment to moment instead of “thinking” about everything else in life.

I challenge everyone who is reading this blog to take themselves out of the past and the future as much as possible and enjoy what is right in front of you. Yes, even the mundane commute to and from work! 

Sing in the car, smile at your neighbor car as you sit in rush hour traffic... you could change their day and yours as well.

The next day “Single Dad Laughing” wrote a continuation of his post about the past does not exist. I thought it was wonderful. He has an amazing talent and I get where he is coming from better than I did yesterday. So here is a link to his next post if you have not already read it:


PS... I love to dance, especially with my kids. It does put you in the moment and when your kids giggle and scream because their mom is BEING with them in this moment (well and because they are being twirled and dipped could have a part in it too) it brings so much JOY and SWEET INNOCENCE to your soul. I hope everyone enjoyed this little rant today. Share with others if you get a chance and peace be with all you!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Rising Above the Doom and Gloom

Come visit my new website nikilivingstonauthor.com



The past few days have been a bit off for me…  To say the least.  I have discovered I sure like to kick myself when I am already down.  It is a talent I have perfected over the years and I am beginning to think I should kick that talent to the curb. 

Anyone who has lost a loved one knows how it feels when their birthday comes around.  You think you will be okay.  You know in your head it has been a few years, so why would you fall apart again. 
No matter what your head says, your heart likes to throw curve balls into your life and mess with your mind.

It was my mom’s birthday this past Tuesday.  I started the day feeling good and I was going to make it an extra fantastic day in honor of my mom.  I do not know where the turn came in my day and I do not even know the why.  I just know it happened and it was downhill from there. 

I barely could function.  I cried off and on throughout the day.  Work was torture and I had to focus all my energy on just getting my tasks done for my job.  Honestly, it was ridiculous.  I went from on top of the clouds to deep within a hole within minutes.  It was a day I needed to pick myself up, dust myself off and crawl back into bed.


See what our loved ones do to our emotions.  I was distraught and not proud of it.

My mind wandered off to my mom over and over again.  I missed her with an ache so deep, my heart was crumbling inside me.

She and I were so different.  She was over the top opinionated and believed her way was the only way.  She could be so difficult to reason with and we had our fair share of arguments.

All that aside, she was my best friend.  She never turned her back on me no matter how often I disappointed her.  She held my hand through so many difficulties and through so many life changes.  She never faltered as a mother.  Never.  I did not appreciate that enough while she was alive. 

I wish I could hug her one more time.


She came to me once... It was a time of trial, only a few years ago.

Despite my faith crisis and walking away from the religion she had loved with all her heart, I believe within my soul she was my guide during that moment in life.  I had so many “out of this world” experiences at that time and I cannot explain them. 

I was in the midst of walking away from my life’s foundation and had just been told a handful of secrets my now ex-husband had been keeping from me.  I was, to say the least, emotionally distraught. 

I felt alone in this world.

I had asked my ex-husband two things while we went through our problems:

  1. Keep our problems between us.  Use his family and friends for support, but do not bring my family and friends into it.
  2. Give me space while I processed what I had learned.

He not only did not respect my two wishes, he brought the neighborhood, my friends, my family, his first wife and who knows who else into our marriage.  And to top it off, he smothered me.

Here I was feeling as if my whole life was on display for the world to see, but feeling completely and utterly alone because my family and friends only had his side of the story and WOW, did he spin it for his own benefit.  It was a moment in my life I wanted to crawl into a hole and not come out again.

I was losing my religion and my husband in one full sweep.  He used my faith crisis to spin his victim tale and sadly, most of my family and friends fell for it. 

My heart was broken.

I thought I had done a better job of creating a life of integrity.

It was then I realized, it was not my job to convince my family and friends of the lies he told.  I knew those would come out on their own eventually.  

In the meantime, I refocused my life on my new path and at this point I WAS alone.

Except there were those moments.

The moments where I knew I was being held.  The moments where I knew someone was with me.  I cannot explain it.  I cannot prove it.  I only have my experiences.  They were powerful and I will never forget them.

I could go into detail, but right now I won’t.  They are stories among a story.  Their beauty and power far surpass anything else I have ever experienced.  They are why I cannot say I believe there is nothing after this life.  I cannot prove there is an afterlife, but I hope for one.  And I hold onto those moments, to remind me there is hope.

Listening to this song pulled me out of the fog I have been in for the past few days.

"Long Lost Child" – Mindy Gledhill
Deep within my memory
Where the grass grows to my knees
Where sparrows sing, and all creation speaks to me.

Where clouds rain in noonday sky
With castles, kings, and queens
Where hopes and dreams, and angels’ wings are common things

A long lost child falls behind
And now she is miles and miles from the present time
And just like the birds that fly across the sky
She’s been away awhile
Oh, but I will find her, free from all guile
Beautifully wild
Long lost child

Across the Swanee River
And down in Golden Glen
I saw her face, but I can’t quite remember when

It’s a game of hide and seeking
So tell me, where’d she go?
Perhaps if I inquire, the Brothers Grimm may know?

Oh, a long lost child left behind
She must be miles and miles from the present time
And just like the birds that fly across the sky
She’s been away awhile
Oh, but I will find her, free from all guile
Beautifully wild
Long lost child

Oh, long lost child left behind
You must be miles and miles from the present time
And just like the birds that fly across the sky
You’ve been away awhile
Oh, but I will find you, free from all guile
Beautifully wild
Long lost child

My mom is my angel.  She is beautifully wild and she knew she had to lead me away from my toxic marriage and even more so, toxic religion.  Too much transpired over that year to just be coincidence.  Too many discoveries and so many breakthroughs.  There was more to the story than meets the eye and until I see her again, I will not know that part of the story.

Now I live a life I only dreamed of years ago.  I am writing on a consistence basis.  I have a novel that has been self-published.  Something I did not think possible five years ago.  I am working in a job where I feel appreciated and I feel I am no longer stuck in my career.

The best of all, I have an amazing partner.  He loves me with a depth I cannot explain.  He is patient and understanding and I feel there are no accidents.  My life took the turns it did to lead me to right here. 

I love my life. 

It may have its bumps in the road, but those times only make me appreciate what I have even more.
I am really good at writing sentimental, mushy posts.  I tried to be a funny writer, but they sounded dry and unnatural.  I am not giving up though.  I live a fun and entertaining life and I would love to learn how to put that down onto paper.  For now I can give you these mushy posts.

Until next time, I will leave you with someone else's whimsical meme, in honor of baseball season and women carrying baby's on their hips and still kicking ass…

Friday, April 3, 2015

76 Letters

Today was one of those days.

I have had them before and I know I will have them again. 

Today was a day where no matter how hard I persisted, no matter how much I worked, nothing fell into place.  Everything was a battle.  I felt as if I was clawing my way out of a hole and the harder I worked the farther I got from the surface.

By early this afternoon I was drained. 

I felt like a failure.

I am a bad parent.

I am not a good enough employee.

My writing stinks.

I am not exercising enough or right.

My house is a disaster and I am to blame.

These are all thoughts that went through my mind.  First world problems, right?

Yeah, I even thought that.

Most people who know me well, know I am generally a positive person.  I look for the good in all situations.  I look for the silver lining as much as possible.

But even I have my off days.  Today was one of those and I finally broke down.

I hate crying.

Not because I think it is weak, but because when I cry, I feel vulnerable.  One thing I have learned about myself... I do not like to feel vulnerable.

I waited until I was in the shower and I broke down.  I sat down and I cried.

I had my own little private pity party.

I took on my own demons and I cried.  I owned my feelings and took on my distaste for my failures.  I stared those suckers in the face and we duked it out.

Those kinds of showers take longer than usual :)

My mom's birthday is coming up in eleven days.  April 14th.  She would have been 76 this year.

For a while now I have been thinking of a way to honor my mom.  I feel visiting her grave is not what would make her feel loved.  This year, I wanted to do something extra special.  Something that would be of her liking.

She loved service.

And she loved getting letters from the people she loved.

I know how to get myself out of my funk.  Even though I feel I am over my pity party, I still want to go further and honor my mom while ridding myself of my demons.

And some of you just might get a letter from me in the next eleven days :)