Wednesday, October 27, 2010
After working at our finances on our own, we decided to start one of Dave Ramsey's financial peace university classes. The class officially finished last weekend and I feel like we gained so much from it. Even though we had already made a lot of changes, it pushed us even more. It got us both on the same page, helped us to create a really good budget, and gave me more hope for our financial future. We feel fortunate to have jobs we enjoy, and even though we aren't debt free yet, I am excited about the idea of it. As the year comes to a close we will focus on our last debt (student loan). It's so easy to get discouraged and think it is taking forever, but when I look back and see our progress and how we have come to better understand finances and our financial future, I'm happy with all we have learned. Yes I wish we took this class in high school, or at least before we got married, but we didn't and we can't dwell on that "if only's". I'm just happy to have all this knowledge now.
After about six months of working with my doctor on my health, I was re-evaluated a few weeks ago. It was great to see the progress I have made in my health. Changing my diet was huge, until now I had never really realized how miserable food was making me. I love food, and I had a diet heavy on cow's milk dairy (cheese, ice cream, milk) bread, chips, boxes and cans. I never really realized that I was eating so poorly. I would eat salads, fruit, and veggies. I thought i was healthy, but I was just fooling myself. I felt bad on a regular basis, my digestion was poor, I was tired all of the time. But I didn't link this to my diet or really think much about it. When I decided to change my diet and incorporate whole foods, load up on fruits and veggies, and good meats I was hesitant and skeptical. I cut out traditional flours, most gluten, grains, traditional dairy, processed food, sugar and a lot more. People thought I was crazy and assumed I couldn't eat anything. But the thing is, I have more freedom, I am more creative with my meals. Now that I have fully detoxed I have added by in some grains (brown rice, and occasionally oats and sprouted grain, or sourdough bread). I don't feel deprived, I'm not starving. For breakfast I usually have eggs with greens or some kind of veggie, whatever is on hand. Lunches are salads, or leftovers from dinner. Dinners vary all the time from grass-fed beef and chicken, to soups, chili, wild caught fish, greens, beans, quinoa, curry, sweet potatoes, squash, peppers, pretty much anything we can think of or any creations inspired by our CSA produce. I also juice fruits and veggies a few times a week. My doctor took me off all of my digestive enzyme and some of my other supplements, and I feel great. A year ago if someone told me I would be drastically changing my diet, cutting out the foods I did, I would have laughed. Now, I can't imagine it any other way. Yes I have cheat meals but honestly I don't crave the things I used to. I don't feel like a slave to food, I eat the foods I want to eat when I want to eat them. I can't believe as I look back how much our diets completely impact our lives, out bodies, everything.
My spiritual life has also really come into focus for me. It's a constant journey. Sometimes I feel lost in it and distanced from it, and other times I feel connected. Through out all these changes I was learning how God really helps create a balance in our lives. Biblically it is important and necessary to take care of our bodies and our finances, but it is an area that is often neglected. I've been reading great books like the Purpose Driven Life, that have helped show me areas in my life I need to be focusing on. God has been teaching me a lot through this journey and I know I still have so much to learn. But I am pleased with the progress I have made in this life change.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Where we are at: We are three months into our personalized "12 weeks to wellness" Plan. The plan was given to us by our doctor Dr. Jana. As I have mentioned previously I heard her speak at a wellness conference. If you are looking for a personalized plan to wellness I would highly recommend checking her out. Even if you are not local to the greater Nashville area she does consultations over the phone. We have moved into the second phase of our plan and we are adding back more foods and feeling the benefits of the supplements we are taking with our cleaned out bodies.
What I have learned: While I can't speak for Colin on this one I am discovering how food affects my body. When you are starting with a clean slate you can discover what works and what doesn't for your body(whether it's an upset stomach, a headache, change in energy levels, etc.) I am learning to be more creative with foods. As you know this spring we joined a CSA. I love it! It's exciting each week to see what fresh and seasonal produce we'll be getting and deciding what to make. We both love cooking and it's nice to know we're supporting local farmers and getting produce that is so fresh. I have learned to trust in God made things. While I believe modern medicine is a result of the God given talents many possess, I also recognize as a society we have come all too accustomed to running to quickly to the doctor, the pharmacy, the medicine cabinet. There can be a natural solution to a lot of things and the herbs and supplements we have added to our lives has helped me to realize there are other options. And maybe one of the biggest things I have learned is I can survive without grains, commercial dairy products, and traditional flour products! I never thought that could be possible, but it is. And i don't feel like I'm deprived of anything and in fact my body seems much happier.
Where we are at: We are continuing to work hard at getting out of debt completely. We have made a lot of progress since we began the journey to being debt free 2 years ago. We are working on paying off the last of it and no longer feeling like we are slaves to money. We are very diligent with following Dave Ramsey's plan. I value his opinions of money and like his philosophy. We just started the 13 week Financial Peace University course. It is being taught at our church and we figured we have been working this plan for a while now and we want to make sure there isn't anything we are missing. I also recently read the book Automatic Millionaire. It's a good read. There are some things I don't really agree with and I prefer Dave Ramsey's plan but it was a very useful and informative book.
What I have learned: If you have a financial plan you will succeed. If you are on the same page with your spouse in terms of finances you will succeed. Life is unexpected and financial emergency will come up no matter what, if you are prepared for them and have an emergency fund you can succeed. You don't have to make 100,000 plus a year to save and retire with wealth. Again, if you have a plan you can succeed! I really believe that and everyday I feel we are a little closer to financial peace.
Where I am at: I have almost finished a book I have been reading for a while now Total Forgiveness.
What I have learned: The book has been very eye opening and I feel like I am learning so much from it. I highly recommend it. A good friend gave it to me several years back and I just filed it away with a bunch of other books thinking I didn't really have anything to learn about forgiveness. But I was wrong. As we continue to go thru this journey to balance it all comes back here to God realizing if that component is off your whole life is out of whack. There are always moments of disconnect and and lack of faith where I think I am fine on my own. But when it comes down to it I recognize it is impossible and exhausting to try and do it all alone.
So long story just a little bit longer. These past three months have been such a learning experience. I am grateful to have my husband along for the ride with me.
"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction" Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Monday, May 10, 2010
One of the strangest things has been the lack of national attention our story received. while most people seem to know what has happened now, it wasn't until we had already begun the recovery process that people began to look in our direction. I got phone calls from people who saw headlines, asking me if we were okay and what was going on. It was hard to find the words to explain what was happening in our city. It was hard to explain to people how big this was when they were only just then getting wind of it. If it had really been a major disaster then they would have known about it, right? And they hadn't, so maybe it wasn't. But it was and no matter how quickly the word got out about our disaster it doesn't change or lessen any of it.
This is my second major disaster in my lifetime. originally from Southern California, I lived there during the Northridge earthquake of '94. This was a huge event and even though I was only 9 years old I remember every moment of it. I remember driving around trying to find food and water, looking for a grocery store that hadn't been destroyed. Wadding through crowds of people. Just as I remember every moment of the earthquake and its aftermath, my brain is scarred with the Nashville Flood of 2010. Although I am not originally from this city, I spent half of my life here. I have lived my life on a tight-rope between Middle Tennessee and Southern California. I call both home and love them both for what they are and what they are not. When I was younger I couldn't wait to move back to California, and once I did I never imagined I would ever live in Tennessee again. I was thankful for my time spent there, but imagined I had got all I could get from it and I couldn't move on fast enough. Little did I know then that Nashville still had a few things to teach me.
When the day came that I was called back to Tennessee I took the steps slowly and reluctantly. But upon my return I remembered something I had forgotten, the sense of community. The greater Nashville area is incredibly unique. Although most would consider it a small town and I have been guilty of the accusations myself, it is so much more. Nashville over the past several years has become a place people move to. No longer a city where you have to search for a good meal and somewhere to shop, Nashville has become metropolitan in its own right. Trader Joe's, Nordstroms on the way, countless designer boutiques and local restaurants that don't just serve meat and 3(not that there' anything wrong with that). Nashville has grown, not just a city of country music and cowboys(even though we have those too), but a city that hosts musicians of every genre every night of the week. A place Hollywood celebrities want to buy their second or third home in, where rock & pop singers come to plant their roots. I'd like to think it is that sense of community that draws people here. This community is ever present is the bustling local music scene. A place where it seems like everyone plays in everyone's band, where people aren't stepping over each other to get there big break but holding each other up and celebrating together. It is something I have always admired about this city and Nashville has truly shined in the wake of the devastating floods.
Our community was ever present as volunteer groups large and small joined together, organized, collected, helped, and rescued. Some organizations like the Red Cross, Hands on Nashville, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and the Second Harvest Food Bank, and others were already in place. But across the city and state groups started up in an instant. Churches, neighborhood organizations, small businesses, all these people joining together and organizing food and clothing drives, hundreds of locations across town set up to collect donations, to distribute food, toiletries, and water. No, we didn't wait for the national news to get hold of our story or the federal government to step in and save us, we joined together and got to work re-building our city.
At church on Sunday I heard stories of heroism and love. Men and women giving of themselves to help others. tearing out drywall and flooring, removing insulation and air ducts, cleaning up debris, and freely giving hugs and saying prayers to those in need. We didn't do this for money, in fact many spent money, spent it even though they would have to repair their own homes, bought and donated supplies to those with greater needs than their own. We gave of ourselves. And God has never been more present than the sight of him working thru these people here. It is easy to point fingers and complain and criticize people for what they aren't doing, it's easy to forget our purpose and our responsibility. As I have lived my life I have come to find God. I have seen many people come to God and many people leave. But now more than ever I believe that the fire that God sets inside of you, it is always there. No matter what happens, whether you decide you no longer need God, that you can do it alone, or if you are stagnant in your walk with God, too busy to do anything, that fire is always present. It lies beneath the surface waiting to be rekindled. And when you see your city falling apart before your eyes, when you see homes under water, when you see people joining together hand in hand to help each other, then that fire ignites within you.
I spend last week in a dizzy state. In shock with what was happening before my eyes, and moved by the instantaneous outreach of the people. The sense of community that I always loved about my city, more alive than ever. As I rushed to help my parents who lost more than us, as we dealt with our home and the needed repairs, in my heart I was in awe of my city, of our city. when I couldn't physically volunteer because of needs at both my and my parents homes, I rushed to the store to buy things, I raided my kitchen and closets for things I didn't need. I don't say this to pat myself on the back for doing good, but to explain that this desire, this need we have to help those in need, it is not our own. It is God living and breathing in us. Whether all those helping with the volunteer efforts would boast of a relationship with God or not, in this town which is religiously, politically, and culturally diverse, still God is ever present. And what I have seen over the course of the week are living breathing examples of God's word. It's almost like pages were torn from the bible and reenacted right before my eyes. And when I thought this place had nothing left to teach me, I have realized in a few days it has taught me everything.
Today and always no matter where my path takes me and where I will call home, I am and always be a Nashvillian. To me, Nashville is a living breathing representation of all that is still good on this Earth.
Friday, May 7, 2010
We live in Nashville and May 1st and 2nd are dates that will burn in our minds forever. Over the course of those 2 days we received just shy of 15 inches of continuous rain. the rainfall and rising of the local rivers all reach record breaking amounts. The Cumberland River with is the main river in Nashville and fairly close to our home crested at 52 feet which is 12 feet above flood level. A large amount of our downtown area was underwater, historic landmarks destroyed, neighborhoods under water, hundreds of water rescues, loss of power and lives. It has been shocking and saddening to watch so much of our beloved city destroyed. The economic impact this flood will have on our state and city is still unknown, but they are estimating the damages are around $1.5 billion.
Due to the flooding the CSA were planned on joining was affected and wasn't able to make it's delivery the first week. But we are so happy to hear that they are up and running again. So we will keep you all updated on our experience with a CSA. If you are a part of one tell us what you think about it. We are excited about the idea of eating seasonally and having fresh organic, local produce, eggs and meet delivered weekly. Our little garden was also damaged in the flood. It appears we still have one tomato plant standing but we will have to replant green papers, lettuce, and everything else.
I am so proud to see Nashville and the local communities ban together in this tragic time and re-build this city together. So many volunteers, so much good coming out of a disaster. I have never been so proud to live in Nashville than I am now and at this point in my life I am so happy to call Nashville my home. This is a true demonstration of a city taking care of itself, and I love it. We Are Nashville.
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Doesn't get much better than that. give coconut oil and try. we hope you'll love it as much as we do. as i mentioned before coconut oil has so many health benefits from regulating thyroid to making your skin look great. if you have any questions about coconut oil please feel free to ask us.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
with our new lifestyle we are eating lots of fresh fruit and veggies which has been taking a toll on our budget. we avoided buying organic by planting a small vegetable garden and have been washing our non-organic produce really well(which reduces but doesn't eliminate pesticides) but our small garden hasn't produced much crop yet and it probably isn't big enough to sustain us through the summer. so we have skirted around buying organic, trying to hold on to as much of our money as possible. we shop at our local farmer's market whenever possible, but we have found it so hard to spend extra on local and organic produce sold in stores and pass up non-organic strawberries for 99 cents in the grocery store. i am slowly realizing that strawberries for 99 cents might be easy on our pockets now, but in the long run we are only hurting ourselves. the pesticides that soak into the produce we eat on a regular basis is so harmful.
Dr. Axe has a great article i just read which has helped convince me to grow more of our own food, buy organic for certain foods, and eat more local produce. Dr. Axe has included a list in this article provided by the Environmental Working Group of the "Dirty Dozen" & "Clean 15". this is a condensed list of the top foods that you NEED to buy organic and 15 foods that are "okay" to consume non-organic in order to save money. therefore you can still stay on a budget while eating healthy. you can read Dr. Axe's article HERE, and check out more info on the dangers of pesticides and why you should avoid them HERE for more in depth info, but here is the list:
WORST(buy these organic): celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, kale, cherries, potatoes, grapes(imported)
BEST (lowest in pesticides): onions, avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, mangos, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potato, honeydew melon
another option for eating healthy on a budget is becoming a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). basically you pay a membership amount generally $400 - $700 for the growing season and in turn you will receive fresh produce from a local farm once a week. some CSA's offer weekly programs so you don't have to pay the whole fee upfront. we have looked into them before, but in the past they seemed too expensive. this of course is before we realized the dangers of what we were eating. when it comes down to it $400 for a weekly supply of fresh and in most cases organic produce over a 6 month period is a great deal. you can find out more info about CSA's and how to join one in your area HERE. we are considering doing a weekly payment option and getting produce, meat, and eggs. this in combination with our little garden should help us get through the growing season more healthfully.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
So I went to the store, and found that most shops don't sell you the 5000 IU's that guys like Dr. Axe and the Vitamin D Council recommend, so I went on-line and found Vitamin D-3 on Amazon's website. This is the best price I have found so far. It is amaxing how many functions of the body are controled by vitamin D.
During the summer you can get most of what you need by the sun, but during the winter, you really need to take supplements.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Dave Ramsey is a big believer in paying the smallest debt first and paying the minimums on everything else. so when you do your monthly budget and you figure out how much you NEED to spend on the basics, whatever is leftover should be applied to debt. You should pay the minimum on everything except your smallest debt which should get the remainder of everything leftover for the month. this method will help you to see a quick reward of paying off a small debt and once that is gone you take what you were paying towards that combined with what you are paying toward your second smallest debt and put it all toward that. Dave Ramsey goes into more detail on this on his website and has plenty of free tools and information that are worth checking out.
Another tool we utilize is the envelope system. several financial folks recommend this method as a way to have a clearer picture of what you are spending. when we do our monthly budget we use an envelope system for items that can be paid for in cash such as: groceries, entertainment, gas, clothing, etc. for example if we have budgeted to spend $200 a month on groceries, when we go to the store we pull cash from the "Groceries" envelope. when the envelope is empty we don't have any more money left to spend on those items. so instead of just going out and buying things we may or may not need we think about what we are purchasing and if we need it right away or at all. since we have started eating more healthfully, we have noticed we have needed to spend more on food during the month. so when we do our budget we adjust it accordingly, shifting money from other things that are of lower priority.
even though we still have a little ways to go we feel so much lighter knowing we have already accomplished so much. it helps us to really think about what we are spending our money on and what we really need not what we think we need. there are more people who are out there giving financial advice aside from Dave Ramsey, we just trust and respect his advice, which is why we refer to him on here.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
as my view on health has changed i have been thinking more about not only what i'm putting into my body but what i'm putting on my body. we have started to use coconut oil for everything from cooking to skincare. coconuts are one of the most incredible super foods and i am discovering more each day on the benefits of coconut. we have replaced all of our cooking oils with coconut oil. and have started to use it as a skin moisturizer as well. Benefits of coconut oil include: improving digestion, reduced inflammation, supports thyroid function, promotes healthy hair and complexion, etc. we get the bulk of our coconut products from Tropical Traditions, they have a lot more info about the benefits of coconut oil on their site as well as great recipes! another incredible benefit of continuous coconut oil use is providing protection from the damaging effects of UV rays from the sun. If you ingest about 3-4 tbsp of coconut oil a day as well as apply it to your skin after 6 months to a year you can start using it as a sun protector. we tested this out the other day, we were out in the sun for 30 - 45 minutes at the pool and we didn't burn.
Dr. Axe posted an article on his site the other day about sunscreen which drove this point home for me even more.
we'll continue to try the coconut oil as our sun protection throughout the summer and report back.
a note on coconut oil: you can purchase the oil in stores but it's pretty expensive. Tropical Traditions has the best prices and different variations of the oil. more on coconuts and coconut oil later.
in the process of paying everything off we began to see how important this new lifestyle was in relation to our relationship with God. we have been Christian's for a while now. my husband for 13 years and me for almost 8. we were quickly beginning to see how a cluttered life is distracting. when you are worried about paying off debt you become obsessed with it. we wanted to be better off for being debt-free and find a healthy balance between hating debt and obsessing over it. i should mention we were not in a terrible place, we weren't struggling to live, or pay or mortgage or anything like that. and if we continued down the route we were on we would have probably just ended up like most Americans with a balance on a credit card or two not thinking too much about it. but the point was we didn't want a balance on a credit card, or school loans, we wanted to have the freedom that comes with being debt free.
So we began the journey and started dreaming of a future sans debt. more time to do the things we loved, more money to do it, a future, more to give to causes we wanted to support. along this journey that we are still on (but we see the light at the end of the tunnel) we have learned that as we started shedding these small debts we were understanding more about God and ourselves. if we were responsible with the things God had given us, how much better and more rewarding our lives could be.
that journey in part lead us to a new one. a little over a month ago i went to a women's wellness conference. I've been to conferences before but most either focused on health or spirituality alone, but this conference brought both topics together. it only echoed what i had already been thinking, that every decision we make, or don't make, all these things are tied together from where we spend our money to how we treat our bodies. what if we could be debt free, healthy, and spiritual. what if being spiritual is already encouraging those things in us, and therefore it is God's plan for us to live that way.
So again we have expanded our thinking. past getting out of debt to encompass healthy living. and realizing that healthy living to us was is having no debt, treating our bodies as temples, and having a relationship with God. we started seeing a "natural" doctor. one that didn't want to put my husband on medication because his cholesterol was slightly elevated, one that thinks there is a better fix for problems than swallowing a pill and moving on. just like how we learned to see paying for something with a credit card is not a solution. it's just a big band-aid.
so here we are now, a few weeks into our new nutrition lifestyle which our doctor calls "12 weeks to wellness". we are in the first phase of the process which helps to get all the toxins out of our bodies that we have been accumulating for years with medicine and heavily processed foods. Our food options are a little limited right now, but it is forcing us to think about what we are putting in our bodies. we'd like to use this blog to talk about our journey to a less cluttered life. we want to share articles we love, the food we're eating, tips, observations, frustrations, decisions and anything else we may encounter along the way.
Monday, March 29, 2010
This Blog was created to help people deal with there lives in a holistic way, written by people who are going through the same trials as everyone else. we hope this is a place that people can learn.