Saturday, September 29, 2012

Trick or Treat! Maybe not . . .

I know it's probably not anywhere near the consensus . . . but I just am not a big fan of Halloween.

Incidentally (as I'm sure many of y'all know), Halloween has a mixture of both pagan and Christian history.  The word, itself, is a contraction of "All Hallows' Eve" (which means the evening before All Hallows' Day . . . All Saints Day).  The roots of Halloween are found in Pagan rituals.  An interesting combination, indeed.

So.  What is it about Halloween that I do not like?

I was recently asked this on my Facebook page, so I thought I'd use Swirlings to answer.
Ha!  I'm supposed to be the person who prefers things to be uncomplicated.  But, yes, strangely enough, it makes sense to me to use one platform to answer a question that was asked on another platform.  There ya go.

Besides, FB doesn't particularly care for wordy posts; it gets very confuzzled, freezes and then usually blips the post into some ozone corner of the web of world-wideness . . . and yep, that happened to me this morning.  There ya go.

First, let's talk about what I do like about Halloween.

Cute kids in sweet, adorable, innocent costumes, with cheery bright and sometimes-painted faces.

Ah, be still my heart!
That's about it, as far as what I like regarding the celebrations surrounding the 31st day October.

What I don't like entails a bit more.

First, I'm not really into ghoulish things; never have been.  Nor, am I interested in exploring the darker side of humanity.  Yeah, it's there; that's a fact; I just don't like delving into it.  Halloween seems to bring that out in adults a bit more than other days.

The other aspect of Halloween that I find a bit bothersome is actually probably the main reason as to why I'm not wild about celebrating that particular day . . .

. . . Sugar!
Yep.  Sugar.  More precisely, sugar mixed with a plethora of unecessary chemicals.

Halloween is probably the biggest sugar-oriented day of the year (with Easter running a close second).

I am continually astounded by the amount of sugar that is bought, distributed and eaten; all in honor of Halloween.

And . . . it's all junk (in my opinion; and, it's an opinion that I realize many do not share).

If the treats being given to kids were homemade treats that would be an entirely differnt matter; but the vast majority of the treats being thrown into the bags held by small humans wearing cute costumes are definitely not homemade.  And, the kicker is that in today's world, homemade treats are frowned upon because of the freaky few who like to put razor blades and poison into homemade treats.  The candy manufacturers and the stores then cash in on this and flood the market with various colorful bite-sized packages of tempting sugar in its many forms.  For example, the grocery store that Tex and I shop at has had their Halloween "area" up for about 3 weeks now.  It's also a pretty big area; after all, Halloween is big business.

Case-in-point:  Trick-or-treat bags seem to get bigger and bigger as the years go by.  I've seen kids with bags almost bigger than they are!

Which brings me to another point . . . when I was a young girl, trick-or-treating consisted of going around our immediate neighborhood (which consisted of 2 streets).  "Back then", there was a neighborly relationship between the trick-or-treaters and the treat-givers.  On some level, I knew every person whose doorbell I rung or whose door I knocked.  Maybe that's a bit Norman Rockwell-ish, but I miss that in today's society; and I miss it for the kids.

Now, it seems to be all about how much candy a child can get.  In recent years, I have heard (in various forms) of parents driving their children around for hours, visiting streets and homes that are miles from where they live . . . all in the name of kids racking up huge amounts of sugary loot.  I know that the number of kids perusing my street on Halloween night far exceeds the the total number of kids who actually live my entire neighborhood.  I cringe when I think of how much sugar these precious children will be consuming because of Halloween. 

And, it doesn't stop there. 
Sugar is addicting. 
Pretty, colorful packaging can be very enticing. 

The combination of the two is often a very difficult temptation to resist; both for young and not-so-young, alike.  I have a very strong concern that we are raising generations (yes, plural) of children that will quickly become addicted to sugar . . . which, in turn, will lead to higher rates of various diseases and illnesses; obesity, diabetes and heart disease being the top three.  Incidentally, as a bonus FYI, cancers feed off of sugar.

Bobbing for apples; silly, fun games; cute, sweet costumes; homemade treats . . . this is my idea of Halloween.  Alas, it's also not the most popular ideas regarding this day; this I certainly know.

Please don't misunderstand . . . if ghoul and/or candy is your thang; then so be it.
I'm no one's lifestyle police nor nutrition police.

But for me, I just think there's much better things out there for us.

Thanks for reading; y'all be most abundantly blessed,

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Summer Salad

I love summer salad.  In fact, I can practically live on this stuff in the summer time!
For me, it's a dish that goes all the way back to my childhood.  We had a garden; and each year, no matter what else we planted, we always also grew our tomatoes and cucumbers.

Oh man!  Is there anything better than eating sun-ripened tomatoes fresh from the vine??!!!  I used to take a bucket of water, a towel and a knife . . . sit myself down in the middle of the tomato patch and have a feast!

I posted this very photo of fresh, marinating veggie goodness on my Facebook page the other day; I had just made a new batch of the salad and thought, "Hey!  That would make a great picture!"  The modesty is almost overwhelming.

Vicki, one of my FB friends, asked for the recipe; thus the reason for this post.

This recipe is simple and basic; and it is pretty-much how my dad used to make it, with one minor change (mentioned in notes below).

Enjoy, and thanks for reading!
Be blessed,

Summer Salad

I have never really measured the ingredients in this recipe (and neither did my dad), but I will try to recreate the quantities based on what I did the other night.

~ 4 large cucumbers, sliced vertically in quarters (cutting each vertical half in half, vertically) and then sliced in chunks (horizontally).
~ 6 roma tomatoes (sliced in the same manner as the cukes)*
~ 1 very large onion, chopped in medium-sized chunks
~ raw sugar **
~ apple cider vinegar **
~ canola oil
~ sea salt
~ pepper ***

Chop all the veggies into a large bowl; mix lightly.

Sprinkle the surface of the veggies with salt and pepper, according to your taste preference (although, I would suggest to not over-salt).

I usually use about about 1.5 more sugar / vinegar mixture than I do oil.  Again, this can be determined by your taste preference.  There should be enough sugar / vinegar and oil so that the veggies are almost covered.  This will allow them to thoroughly marinate. 

After adding the vinegar and oil, mix again (lightly).

Cover bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  The longer the veggies marinate, the more flavorful the salad will be.  It is best to periodically lightly mix the veggies during the initial marinating.

* Roma or sun-ripened tomatoes work best for this recipe.  I'm not particularly wild about hot-house tomatoes (for anything, if I'm being completely honest).  Whichever tomato you choose for this recipe, make sure they are not under-ripe.

** My dad used white sugar and he would sprinkle it over the veggies in the same manner as the salt.
Nowadays, I try to avoid white sugar as much as possible, so I use raw sugar.  Raw sugar, however, doesn't dissolve as quickly as white sugar.  My solution to this is to dissolve the raw sugar directly in the apple cider vinegar.  Use a jar with a lid.  Add about 1/4 cup raw sugar to about 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar.  Shake vigorously and refrigerate at least 24 hours, or until the sugar is dissolve.  Shake again before adding to the veggies.  I keep a jar of cider vinegar & raw sugar in the fridge so that I always have some on hand when it's time to make more summer salad.  If more vinegar is needed for the salad, then I add it directly to the veggies (and make a new batch of sugar vinegar for the fridge). 

Some people like to use bottled Italian dressing in lieu of the vinegar and oil.  I'm generally not a bottled dressing kinda gal, but if that works for you, then pour away!  (Except, I will give y'all a gentle reminder to please read your ingredient labels to make sure there's no harmful or icky ingredients; soy and high fructose corn syrup come readily to mind; especially regarding bottled salad dressings.)

*** I don't always use pepper; it really depends upon my mood.  And, when I do use pepper, sometimes I use black pepper; sometimes I use white pepper.  Go wild!

**** The marinade "juice" can be "re-used" . . . more veggies can be added as needed.
I usually discard any remaining juice and start with a fresh batch after 5-6 days.

Friday, September 7, 2012

13 Days

August 25th . . .

. . . Tex was loading up the truck.  We were getting ready to go to one of our niece's birthday party.  As I was walking out the door, her dad (Tex's oldest brother) called and told me they were getting ready to take my mother-in-law to the hospital.

I told him we were on our way and we'd see him at the ER.

The upshot is that she was diagnosed with West Nile virus.

It's been a long stretch - these past 13 days.  There have been ups and there have been downs.

This is *not* the kind of roller coaster I like.  Not one bit.

BUT.  My mother-in-law is a woman of great faith.  She is also loaded with grit, determination and tenacity. 

Good, good, good . . . and good!

The doctors tell us that this illness does not present itself in just one specific way; the symptoms and complications can vary from patient-to-patient.

I am trusting Our Lord.  This illness did not come as a surprise to Him.
I have faith that He is covering this entire situation . . . her, the family members, the medical team . . . everything and everyone.  He's got it covered.

That's what I know . . . and that's what I'll go with.
Day-by-day and moment-by-moment.

Please keep this precious woman in your prayers.
Thank you so much.

Be blessed,

Know Who You Are

I've been zooming around this web of world-wideness for about 14 years.  Sometime within the past 10-12 years, I became acquainted with my friend, T.

T has a wonderful, beautiful heart and has always been kind to everyone she encounters.  I've witness many of these encounters electronically, on the internet; and I am certain that she behaves in the same way offline.

T is an overweight woman and also struggles with low self-esteem.  This struggle has been on-going for as long as I have known her; and I'm quite sure the struggle extends even many years prior to her involvement in the various internet communities that know and love T.

Recently, she shared on her Facebook about being ridiculed and mocked by teenaged girls and boys, and opened a discussion asking people how to deal with such occurrences.

This blog post is my response to that discussion (including her OP and also some of the various responses to which she received and/or replied). I had initially tried to respond there, but FB . . . in all its glory . . . kept screen-freezing and doing funky dances with my post; so I decided to use Swirlings to house my response.

My reasoning?  My response to T is the same response I would give to anyone with similar questions . . . and I have found that T's ponderings are not at all unique; many people share similar self-esteem struggles.  It is my hope that not only will my response help T, but that also it will be beneficial to others, as well.


Years ago, I learned that it's really none of my business what people think of me.  I will say here and now that I believe people can definitely abuse this adage and take it to unecessary and inappropriate extremes; but regarding complete strangers, it really is none of my business what they think of me.  Nor, is it any of your business what other people think of you.  Why let people live rent-free in your head like that?  Especially, with people that you don't even know!

T, you mentioned that you didn't know overweight people could have eating disorders.  However, they most certainly can.  While there are exceptions, of course (because there are exceptions to almost any axiom), most overweight people definitely have an eating disorder; one that is rooted in emotional eating. 

But, putting that tidbit aside . . . I would like to encourage you to realize that having an eating disorder does *not* define who you are.

And here, I will take a moment to expand this thought . . . I would like to encourage anyone to quit being so possessive about whatever illness or disease they may have personal experience with . . . "my" cancer, "my" diabetes, "my" OCD, "my" mental illness, "my" eating disorder, etc., etc., etc. 

As y'all may know, they are *not* "my" seizures; I claim no part of them and I have not nor will not ever invite them to take up residency in my life.  They are "the" seizures. 

I truly believe that the words we speak definitely influences our outlook  . . . and our outlooks definitely influences our overall health and well being.

Going back to being diagnosed with an eating disorder . . . as gently as I can say this . . . so what?!
Don't let that become your end-all / be-all.  OK . . . you've been dignosed with an eating disorder.  Do something about it!  I do not say that lightly, facetiously nor without personal experience.

Every illness (again, using some of the above examples:  cancer, diabetes, mental illnesses . . . even eating disorders) requires work on the person's part to combat the illness.   Persistent, dilligent, determined, ongoing work. 

Regardless as to how an eating disorder is manifested, the root of it all is why? Why did the person  turn to emotional eating in the first place? Until that question is answered and then the answer, itself, truly dealt with, there will be no freedom nor victory; only ongoing pain and setbacks.

Do what is necessary to overcome the eating disorder.  My prayer for you, T, is that you can find the inner strength within yourself to go from being resigned to "having" an eating disorder and pretty-much that is that, to pushing through all the ick and yuck AND pain so that while you may have to live with and struggle against an eating disorder, you are also, at the same time, doing everything you can to overcome it and to not let it win.

Illegitimus Non Tatum Carborundum.
That's a very popular "made-up" Latin phrase.  Incorrect wording aside, it commonly means, "Don't let the bastards get you down". 

I absolutely love it, and have used it as one of my silent mottos for probably 25 years now.  I guess I just broke my silence.  Ha!

T, in your situation, the bastards are the eating disorder and the low self-esteem, and they are working hand-in-hand and side-by-side to trip you up and keep you down.

Don't let them win!  Fight back!

Will it be easy?
Nope.  Not one bit.

Will it be fun?
I seriously doubt it.

Will it be a quick thing . . . this fighting back?
Probably not; in fact, prepare yourself for the long haul.

Will it be a one-time thing?
Nada.  See above . . . long haul.

Will it be worth it?

Are you worth it?
Most Definitely!

But the caveat to that is . . . until YOU believe that you are worth it, it's not going to matter who says that to you or how many of us say it to you; you're not going to believe us until you believe yourself that you are worth it . . . and until you believe it yourself, you're also not going to live it.

That's another prayer I have for you.  

In your thread, you asked what other people do when they are belittled for being overweight.  My answer can apply to anything; not just being overweight, but they are my answers specifically to your question.

My suggestions to you are varied.  You may utilize one or some of them; depending on your comfort level:

1)  Completely ignore whomever is doing the ridiculing and ignore the specifics of what they are saying.

2)  Smile your very best smile.  Directly, at them.  Make eye-contact with them while smiling.  Disarm them with charm.  Hey!  I just made a rhyme; whaddya know?!  :)

3)  If you're feeling brave and spunky, say hello to them.

4)  Pray.  This should definitely be the first -and- continuous thing to be done.
Pray for them - that Our Lord will bless them. 
Pray for you - that Our Lord will give you His Strength and Comfort, along with His Wisdom and His Guidance.

Whatever you do, do it with your head held high, your shoulders squared and your back straight and not slumped. 

Do it with confidence.  If you don't have confidence, fake it until you do have confidence (and, correct body posture goes a long way in helping someone have confidence; especially regarding their outer appearance).

And this confidence stuff?  The cool thing about that is that once you have confidence, then you also exude said confidence. 

People do not generally belittle and mock people who have true confidence; at least not to their face or within their hearing.  I'm not talking about rude, unstable arrogance; I'm talking about that quiet, steady confidence that comes from a person's inner core because they truly know their worth. 

And again, that kind of confidence cannot come from what other people say good of us; it can only come from us staring down whatever bastards are lurking in our lives and truly addressing the root of them and then being able to put them in their place . . . which is away from us. 

It also comes from knowing who you are in Christ.

And, that, my dear friend, are my prayers for YOU!

They are my prayers for each of y'all . . . quit hiding behind the external reasons and get down to the heart of the matter.  Clean the junk out of your lives, give it to Our Lord, ask Him for HIS Strength and HIS Peace and HIS Joy in your life . . . and then go out and live a life worth living - regardless of what you may have to fight along the way.

And, if you encounter someone along the way who  tries to trip you up, here's what you do:  square your shoulders, straighten your back, hold your head high, smile and say, "Nope; not today; I've got better things to do than to wade in muck."

OK . . . one last thought.
T, you are a Christian, so I will leave you with some Scripture that you can apply to your situation:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things...And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8, 9b).

Since teenagers (or anyone else) mocking and ridiculing someone does not fit into any of the above parameters, then why give such behavior and/or comments a second thought?

Thanks for reading, y'all!
Be blessed,