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Addicted to Sugar.

I was away from my blog for little more than a week. It’s been mental. I missed writing my Friday Night Music Playlist, and I have an entry for #5. I will post it when I post this week. I have decided not to play catch up, and I will just post the entry later, if or when I miss. I try to write each day, and I do not always get to put my thoughts into writing. Last week was horrible for me, except for the one day when a couple of people I know blessed me with some extra money to get through an otherwise difficult week. I was and am thankful for that blessing. It is acts of kindness like this that help me on my journey, to not lose heart and the keep moving forward. I just wanted to say how this was the high point of my week last week amidst the other chaos that ensued, and realizing just how addicted I am to sugar.

At the first of the year I promised myself that I would minimize how much root beer I would consume. Although I do not drink nearly as much pop as I used to drink, I still consume way too much. It has made me rethink things regarding my struggle with weight loss.  So far the only loss I am experiencing is me. I am losing because I am expecting results without change.  I have learned that when I am anxious I crave sweet things. When I get depressed, I will not eat. Lately, I have been craving sugary foods, and I feel that it becoming  a more rapidly growing problem for me.  I have also discovered that I need to increase my Vitamin D, and my water intake. My doctor got on me about not walking enough, so I need to walk for 20-30 minutes each morning. I need to increase my cardio, and decrease my caloric intake. Common sense tells me that I just need to do it, I do not need a reminder.

It would be so much easier if I could join Crunch, Gold’s, Chuze, or LA Fitness where I might be able to get some help or some pointers. I used to be able to go to the gym, but it is not in my budget currently because I am not working, and every dollar I have is already spent. However, there is a remote chance I might be able to sign up with one gym, and get an affordable rate, after I get my tax returns. I am not going to count on it, but I will put out a little hope for it. I also think it would be easier to exercise if I could make some new friends, and have some level of accountability. Because of my medications, and recently eating debacle, I have gained 10 pounds. That is going to be hard to work off for me, and I need to commit, yes I said it, I need to commit to working out each day. I found my season 3 Biggest Loser DVD Cardio Max, and I am beginning to use that in the evenings. I also bought a resistance band both medium and heavy to also do some muscular resistance training. I actually like the resistance bands and use them daily. I am not hydrating enough, and I feel it. I also realize that I need to change my mental attitude about things. Change does not happen in a day, but the desire to change and taking the first step does. I know that if I can just “make fat cry,” again, I will have taken the first steps into a larger journey.

I am not happy with who I am outwardly, and I have heard that is a result of not being happy with one’s inner self. I am changing, and learning to like who I am, and be comfortable in my own skin, as a friend has put it. Growth and maturity takes time, so does wisdom. I realize that following through is the biggest part of keeping a commitment. It also increases with responsibility. I have have been avoiding responsibility, ambition, and commitment for a long time now, and I want to change.  This next week I am going to fast and not consume any sugary drinks for one week. After I complete that week, I will make a new commitment, and not have any sugary drinks for one week and one day. I will keep doing this until it just becomes a natural habit, and I do not have to think about it anymore. I want to learn how to eat clean, and that is the next step.

A poem about lust.

A lustful heart never seems to prosper.
Lust of the eyes are never satisfied.
Lust of the flesh leave men reprobate.
The pride of life makes one selfish.
The idols of lust shroud the mind.
Freedom is invisible when lust is master.
Lust is too proud to let go.

(by K. McConnell, © 2015)

Friday Night Music Playlist No. 4

Tonight, I am listening to M83. The European synthesizer alternative pop group just has a thing about listening to their music that makes you either want to sit back and chill with some friends while gaming or get up and dance. My first experience with M83 was a few years ago when Tom Cruise’s movie Oblivion was in theaters. I knew then that they were going to be an underrated hit. Midnight City is one of the first songs I heard by M83 after I saw the movie. I looked them up on YouTube. I love YouTube for its diversity of music.

When I saw the video for Midnight City, it had that kids with superpowers kind of cinema feel to it. Growing up as a teen in the 80s it made me think of The New Mutants, which was one of my favorite comic books I read often. I like that the video of Midnight City left the ending open with a to be continued feel. The video was later followed up with Reunion, which was a continuation on the theme.

One thing I really liked about the songs, not just the videos is the vocals tied in by the instrumental rhythms and drum riffs. I have always felt that America has lagged when it comes to music, and European bands seem to be more progressive and creative in style, and ahead of the times. Please do not misunderstand me. I like my American music, too.

Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (2011), is an outstanding album. Although it is not always high energy and fast beats, it is energetically charged then somber and reflective, longing. In some ways I want to liken M83 to when I was growing up, and listening to ELO because they have that similarity, and I like songs with stories with feelings. Some songs just make you sit back and enjoy, others make you stop and think, and wonder what does it all mean? This album really surprised me when I first heard it, and I still enjoy listening to it. There are some French lyrics on the album. Umm. I think I will have to learn French now (I say that in fun, and all honesty. One day I want to visit France and see where my inspirations and artists have come from in the land of enchantment.) If you would like to know more about M83, you can read about them here on songfacts.com which is way more accurate than what I have shared with you. My review is more about how the album has inspired me, and a reflection on creativity.

Another Album I would like to share with you this evening is PHISH: A Live One (1995). I first heard PHISH when I was in my mid-twenties. I was taking a drawing class at the the time, and one of my classmates played this album while we worked on our drawings. It is a good album to draw from and relax. The album was recorded live, so you actually get the feeling of being there in the crowd and enjoying the music. In my opinion, this is a pretty laid back album. The first track, Bouncing Around the Room sets the pace for the the rest of the album. Although I have never been to one of their concerts, I would go if I could. Stash is a more instrumental track with limited vocals. What I like about this instrumental is the complex and playful solos, the echo and response dialogue between instruments and the crowd. It reminds me of a song you might hear in an old Disney cartoon where the character might break from story narrative into song. Either way, this is a fun song, and I especially like the playfulness of the guitars and drums. About 8 minutes into the jam, the music goes from playful to a more dark and chaotic tone. It almost sounds wreckless, albeit, it is wild. I think in some ways it reminds me of a scene of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when they are on the boat and riding through the tunnel and all craziness breaks loose. The song continues wildly, and you almost feel exhausted and breathless. I think its climax, the song leaves you feeling like you were on a wild trip, and then like that, the song is over. PHISH: A Live One is a two disc album. I do not think I will get to all of the songs tonight, and will save disc 2 for Friday Night Music Playlist No. 5. The fourth and fifth tracks I like a lot. Montana and You Enjoy Myself are complementary. Montana is more of a segue into You Enjoy Myself. The Interesting thing here is the sum of both songs is 22 minutes of listening pleasure total. You Enjoy Myself is entrancing, hypnotic, meditative, playful, cheerful and alive. It is cosmic. One of the things that stand out most on this song are the subtle percussion and piano and the valiant bass lines. I love the bass on this song. In some ways this jam is more progressive/jazz fusion reminiscent of such bands like The Yellowjackets, The Rippingtons and Spyro Gyra. I do not think PHISH would liken themselves this way, it is just the audio perception that I am feeling when I listen. There is a bit of dramatic flare and in your face kind of sound 6 minutes into the song when things start to get funky. It also, reminds me of The Dave Matthews Band,which is a little far fetched probably, but I like them, too. Overall, you cannot go wrong with PHISH. They are an energetically charged and hip jam band with cool grooves that sway the wayward soul back to good times.

 

More thoughts on being positive.

I found out this week that I have shingles. It is pretty painful, thankfully it is localize and not all over my body. Shingles is related to Chicken Pox, and if you have not had Chicken Pox, then it is contagious to you. Shingles is quite painful, and it attacks the nerves, and leaves blisters that will scab after a given time. I have heard it can take 2-4 weeks to get over shingles, depending on the severity. Having said this, I really need to stay positive. I am not going to let this circumstance get me down. When you have moments like this and feel vulnerable, realize there are other people suffering worse condition,  like a 10 year old boy in Texas who is living through cancer. He is a trooper. It breaks my heart when I see children suffer. I felt like God wanted me to pray for him, and I hope that this young man will survive. I know firsthand how chemotherapy affects the body, as I witnessed my mother’s own body fail. I think this boy has a chance. It is my prayer that Drake will survive cancer, and be allowed to grow up.

The following is part II of my thoughts on being positive:

I am learning to smile more.
Be happier and listen to my inner voice.
Do not be afraid.
Draw each day, sing, and write.
Be inspired.
Give to God however I can.
Trust my instincts.
Be faithful and repay my debts.
Have hope ;
Read my Bible daily.
Entertain good thoughts and dismiss the bad.
Think about what is true, right, lovely, pure, whatever is praiseworthy.
Believe good things will happen.
Do not compromise my beliefs- I guess this is integrity?
Realize I am not alone.
Spend less time seeking approval or acceptance.
Let go of the negative thoughts-the sooner this is done
the easier it is to move forward.
Avoid toxic people.
Find what makes me happy.

 

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and they are just a springboard for living more positively. Life is short. Change the way you think and feel about live. Love life. Love others. Celebrate God’s goodness in your life.

 

Thoughts on staying positive.

I wrote this sometime in 2015 as a reminder to me to not give up or give in to negative feelings. I keep it posted close by my desk, and I look at it often. I hope you will find it encouraging.

Stay Positive,
Forgive Daily,
Be Kind and Patient.
Eat Cleanly,
Exercise Daily,
Believe in Yourself.
Drink Water,
Keep no Record of Wrongs Done,
Love Others.
Let Go, And Let God.
Be Playful,
Let Someone Know That You Love Them.
Be Creative,
Be Honest and Real,
Enjoy Life.
Get the Job Done,
Live Purposefully,
Invest Intentionally,
Save for the Future.
Be Thankful,
Be Gracious,
Have Hope.

(There is a  Part II to this, and I will share it another day.)

Friday Night Music Playlist No. 3

(Sunday edition)

I meant to write my music playlist on Friday night. It has been a pretty emotional time for me in the last week. I have been struggling with my weight. It could be anything from water weight or not eating correctly or meds, or a combination. At this point, it is something I am working through as well as other not so fun issues. Some would just call it “life”. They are probably right, but lacking sensitivity, empathy or compassion. It is easy to get hurt if you let things get to you. Sometimes people mean well, and other times it is just throwing gasoline on the fire to an already collapsing building.

Sometimes I listen to music to ease my pain. How about you? Music is good therapy. When I was a teenager, in the era of almost post record players and turntables and early cassette recorders, I used to make mix tapes of songs I really likes. Actually, I still have some, just put away. Songs speak to people. Songs communicate to the human spirit. Songs warm our dimming hearts. Songs renew our inner strength and sometimes songs inspire hope. Songs often help us when we have the blues. Songs help us play, feel, grow, love and a whole other range of emotions.  Tonight, I suppose I will share an album that lets you feel some of those emotions.

Tears for Fears: The Hurting (1983)

Tears for Fears is and always will be one of my favorite performers. I first heard them in junior high school. I was only familiar with a couple of their songs then, and since then have grown to enjoy listening to their music. This album seems appropriate for tonight as I wind down from cold and gloominess of this Sunday. Memories Fade is a pensive song for me. It makes me think about loss, and how memories still linger, especially when you want to love someone and that person is no longer there. This song also makes me think about broken relationships and dealing with the pain cause by one or the other. The song mentions, “Memories fade, but the scars still linger.” I think, in a way this song makes me feel how I have experienced hurt caused by someone, and though I want to forgive that person, the “scars” are still there reminding me of why we are not together.It is poetic. I like this song because I can relate to it. I guess that is another thing that songs do, they help you relate or identify with something. Another song I like on this album is Suffer The Children which has a great drum beat. It is a beautiful song and poignant. I think, if I understand the song right, it is speaking on a passage from Matthew 19:14 in the Bible where Jesus is talking about protecting children, look after those who are not able to take care of themselves. However, I do not think Tears for Fears actually intended any more than to say that having children is not always easy, things, “don’t turn out the way it should”. You have pleasure. You have pain. You have a gift, and how do you respond. It is a song about the innocence of childhood, shared memories; it is many things. I just like the song. Like many of the songs that came out of England and the USA in the 1980s, the keyboards, and syncopated drumbeats are usually what grab my attention. The last song I want to mention is Change. Even though I have enjoyed the album as a whole, I love the intro to Change. The marimbas and keyboards work really well in this early digital song. I remember first seeing this on MTV when I was a teen, and thinking about the video was surreal. Additionally, I like the bass line rhythms and vocal harmonies. Like contemporaries of their time Tears for Fears were trend setters, and their music still has longevity. I recommend this album for anyone who wants to add this to one’s 80s playlist. It makes me thankful for Pandora, and I can create such a list.

Tonight, I only wanted to talk about this one album and how it has stayed with me all these years. I will endeavor this week to fish through my music to have something more for next Friday. I have not decided yet, and I think it will be better if I only talk about 2 or 3 albums. I sometimes get a little ambitious, then take off more than I can chew, and I want to have fun writing about this. Other artists I liked during this time were: Duran Duran, U2, Depeche Mode, Petshop Boys, and other mainstream British Rock. Perhaps, I will get to write about them soon.

Emotions are not weakness.

It has been an up and down kind of week. In my last blog entry I talked about spiritual warfare. I have often discovered that many people do not like to talk about this sort of thing. I am one of those people. However, it is sometimes necessary to discuss it because, those of us who are believers do not wrestle with flesh and blood matters. We fight the things that would hinder our walk with Jesus. Sometimes it drains you emotionally, and that is what I want to talk about.

This week in my Rooted Bible Study group we talked about ways that the enemy, Satan, speaks lies to us, and how we listen to those lies. It is when we believe those lies that makes things difficult for our lives. In my own life, it stems from a deeps seed of rejection. Often, through much of my life, I have heard those voices telling me that I am a failure, I am no good, or I am not a good person, or even that God does not love me. Right? I know you have probably heard those thoughts too. I sometimes think those thoughts are so negative and condemning, that I recognize when I am being antagonized spiritually.

This  last week I heard a lot of those taunting thoughts, and I recognized them because they try to instill fear, worry, anxiety, and depression, trying to rob me of any peace or joy I might have had. I am not working at the moment, so you can imagine there are different kinds of thoughts at work. This week I felt anxious, and depressed. When I started to worry how I was going to pay a bill, or make it through the next couple of weeks, I heard the voice of fear tell me that I was not going to make it. They are just subtle voices, but I have learned to put those thoughts in God’s hands. When I am anxious, some of my Christian friends automatically refer me to Philippians 4:6-7, but for me it is verse 8 that really counts. In case you have not read this passage, let me share it with you, because I think you will benefit from reading it, too.

Philippians 4:6-8New Testament for Everyone (NTE)

Don’t worry about anything. Rather, in every area of life let God know what you want, as you pray and make requests, and give thanks as well. And God’s peace, which is greater than we can ever understand, will keep guard over your hearts and minds in King Jesus.

For the rest, my dear family, these are the things you should think through: whatever is true, whatever is holy, whatever is upright, whatever is pure, whatever is attractive, whatever has a good reputation; anything virtuous, anything praiseworthy.

New Testament for Everyone (NTE)Scripture quotations from The New Testament for Everyone are copyright © Nicholas Thomas Wright 2011.

This week especially was difficult for me as I mentioned, and this passage helped me. When you start feeling like you cannot handle life, feeling hopeless, filled with doubt and despair. remember, you can take control. We are empowered in Christ, and he is greater in us than the spirit of this world. What helped me to get through each day was remembering what is true. I ask God in my prayer time to show me what is true, through scripture. I do not dismiss the antagonistic thoughts, I choose not to receive their indignation or falsehoods. Knowing what God thinks about you is half the battle, and He is for us not against us. He loves us. I struggled with areas of unbelief, and now I have chosen to believe what God says through His word. Those thoughts of negativity can affect you if you let them, but you can choose to not let them become truths in your life.

One of the things that set me off this week was my weight. I gained 5 pounds. It might just be water weight, but I felt discouraged nonetheless. I look in the mirror, and I do not recognize myself. I hear those thoughts saying I am fat, or ugly, or no woman will ever want me, or I am going to be single the rest of my life. All lies from the enemy. God is not like that. I have learned that when I am still, God helps me clear my thoughts through prayer and submitting to Him through reading His word. If I am being redundant, it is only so that I can emphasize believing the truth that comes from scripture and not what you feel you know or think you know. I am learning from my quiet times that God is beginning to heal me, and equip me to better protect myself from the negativity and pain caused by dwelling on the lies. If you are uncertain if you are beginning to believe lies in your thoughts, ask God for wisdom and discernment, and He will give it to you. If you are an emotional individual like me, it does not make you week to be emotional. You are actually much stronger.  God uses our difficulties to build character (-a thought for a different blog I will share).