Ahhh, another successful holiday season has come and gone! Now just to get things back to normal – whatever normal means. I love Christmas – decorating with all the twinkly lights, wrapping gifts that we choose so carefully for Christmas, baking yummy treats for the family gatherings, playing games, listening to Christmas music – all of it, I love it all. But when Christmas is over and everyone goes home, all the decorations leaves me feeling a little empty and sad so when that feeling comes, I know it is time to de-Christmas, So today, away it all went!
I love it when a new year begins as it offers me the chance to start fresh and implement new life strategies that will boost my personal well being. Getting rid of clutter and having a clean house is one of the best ways to clear off space for new beginnings, a clean slate with which to begin the new Year with – I am certain that 2018 is going to be a great year for me and my family. We have some exciting things on the horizon – my niece will be having a baby this summer, we have some small trips planned, my husband has a little hot rod car he will be working on refinishing when we have the shop completed, there is camping season, hunting season and the list goes on and on!
I’m not a big fan of resolutions – mainly because I don’t usually succeed at keeping them leaving me to feel like a failure before the 10th of January. But, what I did do was take some time to reflect on the past year – I looked at what transpired in 2017 including both positive and negative things and I have to say that 2017 was a wonderful year for me and my family. We have our health, we have each other, we have expanded our family (marriages, children, etc), family has moved closer to us, we went on some awesome vacations, etc. So, things are going great but I do plan on implementing some new life strategies that will continue to boost my well being and physical health. One of the things I have decided is to make a few commitments to myself (notice I didn’t say RESOLUTIONS) for this coming year which include:
Reprogramming my negative self-talk to become empowering self-talk. We teach our subconscious everything it knows, meaning we’re constantly feeding it information. It means we also feed it information that is not positive or productive to our well-being. Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”. This is a big deal for me, especially as my MS progresses and I am unable to do all I have been able to do in the past. It’s hard on the ego and I can get into my own head quickly listening to negative self-talk and that needs to stop – right now!
Take more naps – I’m the first to admit that I don’t get enough sleep. Mainly because I have terrible sleep habits and partially because I am a premenopausal woman whose hormones are going a little wonky! I know that getting enough sleep helps improve concentration, reduces stress, and gives you the energy you need to get through the day. I also know that sleep is when the body regenerates and heals and my old MS body needs that, so I need to make sleep more of a priority.
Be More Grateful – Studies show that gratitude can make you 25% happier. Think about that for a second: I can be 25% happier simply by taking the time to count my blessings and think of all the good things in my life! Being grateful will also help me to overcome adversity, improve the quality of my sleep, and allow me to focus on my blessings.
Enjoy the Little Things – Living life to the fullest doesn’t just mean setting big goals, it also includes learning to enjoy the little simple things like:
Going to the beach and looking for beach glass.
Walking barefoot in the grass, running through the sprinkler and enjoying another summer of water fights!
Picking blackberries on the side of the road with the grandkids
One of the challenges I’m facing right now is that my MS is causing some minor personality changes in me. I seem to get irritated quicker than ever before and I am finding it increasingly difficult to multi task. And to top it all off, I feel more overwhelmed and confused than I was pre-MS diagnosis. I used to be the queen of multi-tasking and busyness was my friend. Not so much anymore. So, for those times that I may be short with those I love, I will be quick to say I’m sorry.
I will tell you what I’m not going to do this year, I am NOT going to start doing planks every day, even though everyone and their dog says that it’s a good thing to do. Uhm, nope not for me this year, and probably not next year either so don’t get your hopes up!
Step 2 in my quest for personal improvement for 2018 was to Choose One Word to help guide me. This word should link me to my values and goals. The intention is that it will remind me of who I am, what and who I want to be and what I stand for in 2018. The word is intended to be a guide, not a harsh standard though, it is my hope that it will just become second nature for me. For those who know me, you know that I am reinventing myself now and finding a new way of being while living my best life with my Multiple Sclerosis, which is difficult some days.
My hope is that it will help me to stay focused on my main goal and will keep me excited about being the maker of my own destiny (which is a little scary in itself)! This was an interesting challenge for me. It was not as easy as you would think – there are a lot of words out there – big words, little words, ambiguous words, in your face words, motivational words, etc. In short, your one word is basically the theme and the focus for your new year and should capture your hopes, dreams and inspirations as concisely as possible. Here was my short-list of words and why I considered them for my word:
Discipline – Who couldn’t use more discipline in their lives? I want to be disciplined in many areas of my life such as my health, diet, exercise, and finances. Focusing on this word would help me be disciplined in sticking with goals and making changes happen in my life. Like eating less processed foods and sugars, more veggies and drinking more water.
Courage – I hope for the strength to persevere and face difficulties and challenges head on rather than avoid doing things where I may fail, get embarrassed, or not live up to my own expectations of myself. As writer and social scientist Brene Brown says: “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” I need to remember that it’s okay to make mistakes; we all have days or moments when we wish we could have a do-over and that’s ok, its normal and nothing to beat myself up about.
Enough – This word reminds me that I am enough, and I don’t need to meet the standards of anyone else, but I also need to remind myself that I need to do enough to be the person that I want to be.
Brave – I want to defy the odds and the typical outcomes of what my MS may bring to my life. I want to act courageously and with no regrets. And not just put on a brave face or some showy face, but to be able to confront things head on and not be a victim of my circumstances. To not be afraid just because the way before me looks scary or I have no idea what the future holds. Nobody knows what the future holds anyway!
Peace – Rather than a long list of items to “fix” about myself, I would rather focus on doing things that bring me peace.
Compassionate – Starting with compassion for myself because that is where I fall short. But, you gain an incredible amount of strength by being kind to yourself. When you beat yourself up, you take away your personal power because you aren’t on your own team. I have an amazing team in my corner, but I also need to be on that team myself.
And, the winning word that I keep coming back to and therefore chosen as my word for 2018 is………. INTENTIONAL
Intentional – * done with intention or on purpose. * Of or relating to intention or purpose * Pertaining to the capacity of the mind to refer to an existent or non existent object.
Being intentional in what I do will allow me to have focus and prioritize what is most important, therefore intentionally putting important things at the top of my list and since I only have a limited amount of energy everyday I will be using my energy toward those things. It will help me determine what is a NEED to and what is a WANT to. It will also allow me to be clear and purposeful in my communication and relationships with people. At the end of 2018 when I reflect on the year, I want to be able to see that the progress I made was because I was intentional and worked consistently towards positive change in my life. To become intentional in thoughts and actions means actually thinking through, planning, considering the true value in all that I do, say and think focusing on the “why” behind what I do daily. In short, I want to make good sound decisions, living a life of intention, not default.
One thing I can guarantee you is that this year is going to go by, and you’re either going to come out the other side better, worse, or the same. Life happens, but what we do with that life is completely up to us. So, be happy with yourself and celebrate new beginnings. The New Year is a time to start over, and realize that anything is possible. If it is to be, it’s up to me!
What will you write for the next chapter of your life? I’d love to hear about it!
I can’t end my first post of 2018 without a yummy recipe – we have a favorite little Vietnamese noodle place that we love to go to, so I decided to try my hand at our # 1 menu choice (which is actually an A5 on the menu, not a #1, but that’s beside the point!). So, I went to my favorite recipe source – Pinterest to find exactly what I was looking for and again, I wasn’t disappointed. Pinterest never ever lets me down, I have no idea how I survived in the kitchen before Pinterest! This is where I discovered http://www.recipetineats.com. Nagi is the voice, cook and photographer behind RecipeTin Eats. She was born in Japan and raised in Australia but has spent time travelling the world which is where her cooking inspiration comes from. I love that she explains that growing up, budget was tight and even though her mother worked full time, they dined like royalty because she was so creative in the kitchen. And this is why she knows that it’s possible to make great, fresh food even if you’re short on time and on a budget. She uses everyday ingredients and makes recipes that are simple to make, cost effective and can often be prepared ahead. Her blog reflects her philosophy on food and cooking – fast, creative, clever and fresh!
Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Bowl
Easy light, healthy noodles topped with tasty marinaded meat, fresh vegetables and herbs, drizzled lightly with a zingy sauce, who needs takeout with this recipe?!!
Meat and Marinade
- 600 – 800g / 1.2 – 1.6lb chicken thighs, skinless and boneless or breast (or pork, beef or any seafood)
- 2 garlic cloves , finely chopped or minced
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp fish sauce (Note 3)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce (all purpose or light)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 stalk lemongrass , white part only, bruised then sliced into pieces easy to pick out later (Note 1)
- 1/4 cup fish sauce (Note 3)
- 4 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 red birdseye chilli, finely chopped (Note 5)
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 1/2 tbsp oil
- 200 g / 7 oz vermicelli noodles , dried
- 2 carrots , julienned
- 2 cucumbers julienned (optional: remove seeds)
- 5 cups iceberg lettuce , finely sliced
- 3 cups bean sprouts
- Handful of mint leaves
- Handful of cilantro/coriander
- Sliced chili (for garnish – optional)
- Lime wedges (to serve – optional)
- Combine Meat and Marinade ingredients and set aside for at least 1 hour, up to 24 hours. (Note 4)
- Combine the Nuoc Cham ingredients and mix well to dissolve the sugar. Adjust to your taste (spiciness, lime, sweetness) and set aside.
- Soak the vermicelli noodles in hot water for 3 minutes (or according to packet instructions), then drain and rinse under cold water to stop the noodles from sticking together.
- Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a fry pan over medium heat (or heat the BBQ). Remove chicken from marinade, shaking off large bits of lemongrass (small bits should fall off during cooking).
- Place chicken in the pan and cook each side until dark golden brown and chicken is just cooked through – about 6 to 8 minutes in total. Remove from pan, shaking off any remaining bits of visible lemongrass and set aside to rest for 5 minutes. Then slice into thin pieces.
- To serve individually: Place noodles in bowl. Then either top or lightly toss through the vegetables and herbs, and top with chicken pieces. Drizzle with a few tablespoons of Nuoc Cham Sauce (be generous, ~ 4 tbsp per serving) and serve with lime wedges.
- To serve to share (my preferred way): Place meat and vegetables on a large platter with the sauce, and the noodles in a bowl, and let your guests help themselves.
- To prepare the lemongrass, peel the tough outer layers off to reveal the softer white part on the bottom ~1/3 of the lemongrass. Bruise using the back of the knife (see video). Don’t slice too finely or finely chop, you want the pieces large enough, so you can just brush them off (lemongrass is kind of tough, it has to be very finely chopped / cooked for a long time to eat). You could sub with 1 tbsp lemongrass paste.
- Make this kid friendly by just serving the chilli on the side. To make it GLUTEN FREE, ensure you use GF tamari.
- Fish sauce is a key ingredient in a lot of Asian cooking. Don’t worry, it doesn’t taste fishy when combined with other ingredients! It’s an incredible flavour enhancer that has more depth than salt or soy sauce and is very cheap to buy at supermarkets or Asian grocery stores (even better value!)
- Freezing: If the chicken is frozen, pop it in the fridge as soon as it’s in the marinade. Then let it defrost in the fridge – it will marinate during this time.
- This can be substituted with any spicy chilli. Adjust to your taste.
- DIY Noodle Bowl Spread: Pile all the components on a large platter or separate bowls and let guests serve themselves. That’s how I typically serve this.