Insanity: 30 Degrees East

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I quit.

Famous. Last. Words.

But yes, I wanted to quit.

You have no idea how close I came to closing the door. Poof, gone, voila. The hosting for my website came up for renewal. It had been two months since my last post. Two months since I typed a single word for that matter.

But why? What had happened to cause such inactivity?

I moved. I had packed up my belongings, threw them into a U-Haul truck and landed thirty degrees east, in the desert. And when I say thirty degrees, I’m talking Fahrenheit. Let me tell you, this is so not the beach!

Insanity.

Yes, moving is insane. I had all the negative sentiments that all of us have during the process. There were lots of boxes, wrapping, packing and unpacking. Needless to say, I was not a happy girl. Not one bit.

Then I began to mope. And I do not look good in that color. You know, mopey is not all glitter and sparkles. It’s dingy, dull and downright ugly.

Thus I decided to take a closer look at “insane” and see if I could rise above the insanity. After all, just because I feel a little crazy doesn’t mean I have to be unreasonable and senseless. That would be ridiculous, right?

Here’s what I found:

I- Inspire

There is no better way to be inspired than to make a move. Especially if you’re forced to move, you have little choice in the matter. There is no time for procrastination. So why not look at it as another avenue for creativity. ☺

N- Novel

Breathe in the prospect of new possibilities. Think fresh, think innovative! Think of all the new things you’ll experience firsthand.

S- Serendipity

Find value in the gift of discovery. This is a chance to fall into like with somewhere new. Will all our problems go away? Well, maybe. Maybe not. But it’s an opportunity to push the restart button. So go for it!

A- Adaptable

Embrace the change. This may mean we need to accept and embrace whatever comes our way. It’s part of the unknown, yet isn’t that what makes life so interesting?

N- Neat

I chose this word because this is one of the most challenging things about making a move. There is a certain discomfort in letting go. It’s familiar; it’s what we know. Yet, it can be liberating and make all the difference in our new world.

E- Enjoy

Did you notice that joy is part of the word Enjoy? The prefix “En” means to surround itself within the route word. So are we surrounding ourselves with joy? A move can be a successful experience, beneficial and enjoyable, an insane gift with greater opportunities.

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(Courtesy of Memories Facebook Community)

So while I adjust to the thirty degree change east in the desert, I have decided to embrace the insanity and celebrate it for everything that it is. And why not? I think I’m beginning to adjust to all the craziness that goes on in my life.

How about you?

What do you think? Have you cleaned out the garage or moved lately? Have you ever gone a little crazy with spring cleaning? Do you find it uncomfortable to unload those perhaps unnecessary items? Or do you feel relieved? What do you do to keep yourself inspired and sane?

Cheers everyone! I hope that life is treating you well. And as always, thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!
Karen

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Beef Is What’s For Dinner

You all know how I like to switch it up from time to time. So why should today be any different? I try to keep us on our toes around here. Notice I include myself in that statement since I never know what will motivate me to write my next post. ☺

Lately we’ve talked about the perils of GMO foods, the demise of Sting’s Broadway adventure and the rowdy antics of a certain clan named McFarland. And there’s no need to expound more on that topic.

So what’s my beef today?

Well…Beef actually.

A while back I wrote a post called, “Have It Your Way—It’s a Whopper.” It was a disturbing report on the use of Horsemeat as a substitute for Cow’s. It turned out to be a very interesting subject about our meat supply, not only here in the U.S., but in Europe, and Great Britain.

Although this isn’t our focus today, many of you had asked me to write a post about how Cattle are raised, what they are fed and the correlation with our food chain and how it affects our health.

According to the National Cattlemen’s Association, Beef is roughly a 55 Billion dollar industry. Last year, the total U.S. beef consumption alone was 25.5 billion pounds. So as you can see, our meat has become an industry.

Before factory farming, cattle were raised on family farms across the country and the process was rather simple. Calves were born in the spring, spent their first months suckling milk from their mother and grazed on sweet grass until they were weaned and turned out onto pastures.

Some cattle were given a moderate amount of grain to enhance that marbling fatty flavor until they grew to maturity and reached the market at two to three years of age. This meat was free of antibiotics, added hormones, feed additives, flavor enhancers, age-delaying gases and salt-water solutions. Mad cow disease and the deadliest strain of E. Coli didn’t exist. People were able to dine on rare steaks with little fear.

Today’s Beef grows to market weight in just one to two years, with cows that may never spend much time in an open grassy pasture. But this process reduces the nutritional value of the meat, stresses the animal out and increases the risk of bacterial infection, never mind the fact that it pollutes the environment and exposes us to a host of unwanted chemicals that include hormones and antibiotics.

Sounds wonderful right?

So what’s the answer?

Eat Grass Fed Beef.

Yet, let me take this even further.

Eat Organic Grass Fed Beef!

Why do I say Organic Grass Fed Beef?

Because cattle may now be forced to indulge in genetically modified grass.

It seems Scotts ‘Miracle-Gro, who created genetically modified RoundUp-Ready Kentucky Bluegrass, has announced that it will conduct field trials at the homes of Scotts’ employees. And they can do this without any government oversight because there are no laws that prohibit or limit the planting of GMO grass.

What this means is cattle will now graze upon GMO Kentucky Bluegrass and people will ingest the RoundUp chemicals sprayed on the cow’s favorite meal. What this means is more exposure to Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s broad-spectrum herbicide, a chemical that not only has a scientific connection to breast cancer, but also to chronic kidney disease.

And that my friends is why I wrote this post. I felt it important to pass on this information. True, it’s virtually impossible to keep up with everything that goes on with our food chain these days. We can drive ourselves absolutely nuts. But if you want to bite into a juicy burger or steak, make it Organic Grass Fed Beef.

Because Beef is what’s for dinner. Or maybe not. That’s a choice you’ll have to make.

If you have time you may want to pop over to the PBS series “Take Part” for more information on this subject.

And if you want further information about healthy eating, please join me over at Lynn Kelley’s blog as she shares another “Heath and Wellness Wednesday post!”
 

So what do you think? How does this make you feel about how our food is handled? Because most of us live busy lives and the affordability of ground beef, did you find this information helpful? Do you enjoy a good, juicy steak? What healthy favorite foods make it to your family table?
 

Cheers everyone! I hope that life is treating you well. And as always, thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!
Karen

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My Name is Karen and I am A…

McFarland.

Ha! You thought I was going to say an Alcoholic. Not!

And I’m not really a McFarland either. I only married into the name.

Yet, even though I wasn’t born a McFarland, the name I have to say is kind of special.

Why do I say that?

To begin with, the McFarland’s come from Scottish descent. They not only have they’re own tartan, a family crest and coat of arms, they own the island that’s in the middle of notorious Loch Ness.

That’s special, isn’t it?

Turns out, not so much.

According to Wikipedia, the clan McFarlane, which is the original form of the McFarland name, was denounced for committing theft, robbery, murder and tyranny. Several members of the clan were tried and convicted, some pardoned, some executed. Many dispersed throughout Scotland while others fled to Ireland, and with the potato famine, emigrated further to America where the surname would then evolve to McFarland.

Ah, the McFarland’s. The clan it seems were a rowdy bunch of rebel rousers. So much so, they got their “A” kicked out of the country. Without the “A”, the Mac turned into a “Mc”.

Kick that “A” out and no one will know the difference, right?

Right.

So then, what’s the story with McFarland in the USA?

About a month ago, I received this text and picture.

“Seriously?”
 

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“You have your own “world” at Disney?”

My cousin Craig. He thinks he’s funny.

My response?

“What can I say? When you have it…”

I really had no idea what he was talking about. But I wasn’t about to tell him that.

Oh, hi Craig. *Waves*

But this little prankster got me going. I had to find out what he was talking about?

I have my own “world” at Disney?

What does a small Hispanic town in central California, USA, have to do with McFarland?

Well, here’s what I found out.

McFarland is where two world record Olympic medalists attended high school and the place that inspired the 1987 true story into a movie.

“McFarland, USA.”

It’s about a group of novice runners from McFarland, an economically challenged town in California’s farm-rich Central Valley, as they give their all to build a cross-country team under the direction of Coach Jim White, played by Kevin Costner, a newcomer to their predominantly Latino high school. Coach White and the McFarland students have a lot to learn about each other but when White starts to realize the boys’ exceptional running ability, things begin to change.

Soon something beyond their physical gifts becomes apparent—the power of family relationships, their unwavering commitment to one another and their incredible work ethic. With grit and determination, the unlikely band of runners eventually overcomes the odds to forge not only a championship cross-country team but an enduring legacy as well. Along the way, Coach White realizes that his family finally found a place to call home and both he and his team achieve their own kind of American dream.” (Disney.com)

Well, what do you know. I do have my own “world” at Disney!

Yet, this is no small world. For a number of years, hubby and I lived near the town of McFarland. In fact, we were constantly asked if we were related to the McFarland’s of “McFarland”.

Considering their founder J.B. McFarland was Scottish, for all we know, he could be a long lost relative. Stranger things have happened!

And that my friends is what makes the name McFarland so special.

At least in central California.

Here’s the preview. I hear it’s pretty inspiring. Take a peek!
 

So what do you think? From what country does your family’s ancestry hail? Has your family ever had a town named after them? Had you ever heard of McFarland, California or the movie that bears its name? Are you a fan of Kevin Costner? If so, feel free share your favorite Costner or Disney film with all of us!
 

Cheers everyone! I hope that life is treating you well. And as always, thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!
Karen

 

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Sending Out An S.O.S.

Choice, chance, change
(Courtesy of Zig Ziglar)

They say that failure is good. That it builds character and allows us to grow. It helps refine us.

You know, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

Hmm.

I wonder if that’s how Sting feels at the moment.

Failure is never easy. Especially, if you’re in the public eye.

A couple of months ago, I watched an interview with Sting on NPR/Ted radio, “How to Get Over Writer’s Block.” During the discourse, Sting talked about his horrible bout with writer’s block that stretched for nearly a decade.

Now wait a minute. This is Sting. We’re talking about a legendary singer-songwriter. A member of the iconic band The Police. A ten Grammy, two Brits, Golden Globe award winner who has sold close to 100 million albums and was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Yes, that Sting! Writer’s block? Are you kidding me?

I guess if it can happen to Sting, it can happen to anyone.

But here’s what he had to say—

“Creativity is the ability to take a risk. To actually put yourself on the line and risk ridicule, being pilloried, criticized, whatever. But…you must take that risk.”

So what did he do?

He sent out an S.O.S. He took a risk. He dug deep into his past and found inspiration. He channeled stories of shipyard workers that he knew from his childhood. And voila! A Broadway musical was born.

An Englishman in New York?

No silly. The Last Ship.

It became his 14th solo album and a new play bearing the same name with music and lyrics by Sting. And it debuted at the Neil Simon Theatre at the end of October.

Then it sprang a leak.

The Last Ship was set against the downfall of the local English shipbuilding industry. It tells the story about a group of unemployed shipyard workers who want to take back their pride and build one last ship—not for their employer, not for the government, but for their own self-esteem, for humanity.

Of course, there’s more to it. There’s a love story that’s also weaved into the account. But the story really resonated with Sting. He felt that this story ran parallel to the narrative of many hard working people today who had lost their manufacturing jobs. Which in turn made him more determined than ever to bring his story to life.

Alas, the musical didn’t quite come across as well as Sting had envisioned. So much so, that by mid-December, Sting jumped into the fray and took on a supporting role in hopes of bolstering sales. But with all the lukewarm reviews, even though some thought that the story was seaworthy, it still didn’t help.

The Last Ship sunk.

On the eve of joining the cast onstage, the singer acknowledged his show faced a tough future: “This was never going to be easy. I didn’t anticipate a shoo-in at all. I expected a battle because I want to succeed against the odds.”

Send out an S.O.S. Sting!

Unfortunately, it was too late. There, amongst what was Broadway’s highest grossing year, Sting had failed. His story didn’t inspire audiences to tell their friends that The Last Ship was a must-see. It was a lack of word-of-mouth that had caused the show’s demise.

The lack of word-of-mouth that caused a 15 million dollar ship to go down.

Ouch!

Yet, this is his message in a bottle:

Just a castaway
An island lost at sea
Another lonely day
With no one here but me
More loneliness
Than any man could bear
Rescue me before I fall into despair

The Last Ship’s final performance will be on January 24th. If you wanted to see Sting’s musical, you better head over before it sails off into the sunset.

Yet, somehow I don’t think this will be the last thing that we hear from Sting. He’s too willing to make a choice, to take a chance, so his life will change!

And so should we.
 

Here’s Bruno Mars covering So Lonely/Message in a Bottle at the Kennedy Center in honor of Sting.


 

So what do you think? Have you ever seen a live performance by Sting? Did you know about Sting’s Broadway musical The Last Ship? Have you ever taken a risk and failed? If so, how did it make you feel? What did you do to pick yourself up? And what is your favorite song by Sting?
 

Cheers everyone! I hope that life is treating you well. And as always, thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!
Karen

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Unbroken and Undefeated

Worry is a waste of time
(Courtesy of Jill Blakeway)
 

We are at the threshold of a New Year.

2015.

Already?

I know. Where did 2014 go?
 

We say this every year and yet we still ask the same question. It seems that time goes by too fast. Then again, I guess this thought could be argued depending on what kind of year we’ve had. If it was a good year, it probably did speed by. But if it wasn’t, if we were forced to deal with a lot of difficult challenges in our life, time may have lagged on. As in, “Will this year ever end?”

Nevertheless, we have little choice in the matter. It doesn’t help to worry about the things that we weren’t able to achieve or the little idiosyncrasies that took over our hopes and aspirations. Either way the change is going to happen. So we might as well buckle up and enjoy the ride.

It’s a brand new year and a fresh slate—a chance to hit the restart button! An opportunity to take on a positive view or perhaps set new goals for a brighter future.

Are you feeling inspired? After all, inspiration is the spark that can set our new goals on fire. If you’re looking for a little encouragement, let me share with you something that I know you’ll find inspiring.
 

Unbroken and Undefeated.
 

What do these words mean to you?

First impression may tell us they mean the same thing. But if we take a closer look, we find that even though these two words share a parallel meaning, they embrace a whole different significance unto their own.

When we think of Unbroken, we think of someone who is constant, steady, undying, someone who has run the race with endurance. Someone like Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini, for which the book and new movie was written about.

On the other hand, Undefeated can take on a whole different meaning, that of someone who is unbeaten, invincible, determined and steadfast. Someone who is resilient, a survivalist, someone like author Laura Hillenbrand.

Why do I say this?

It’s not like Laura Hillenbrand has written a plethora of novels. Quite the opposite actually. She has written only two.
 

Seabiscuit and Unbroken.
 

Equally successful, both books revolve around subjects whose lives were found Unbroken and Undefeated. Both were stories that told an unforgettable journey into extremity, a testament to the resilience of both animal and man.

But what some of you may or may not know is that Laura Hillenbrand suffers from a very debilitating illness. It is what’s kept her from writing more than two books thus far. No telling what the results would be if the woman was healthy.

Laura suffers from what is now known as ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For her, most days are considered a success if she manages to take a shower on her feet. Even during a two year period while writing her current novel “Unbroken”, which took her almost a decade to write, she never left her home. In fact, for several of those months, she never left her room.

Yes, in the carefully calibrated world of Laura Hillenbrand, every reaction has an equivalent and opposite reaction. For an example, she might agree to an interview but skip a shower. Her energy is finite, and she typically has enough for one activity per day. Yet, her writing has been a riposte to anyone who had ever associated CFS with laziness.

Many journalists have been quick to point out the irony of Ms. Hillenbrand’s work: “A woman for whom walking around the block constitutes a marathon writes about the finest specimens of physical endurance.”
 

A woman who has proven to be Unbroken and Undefeated.
 

And therein lies the story behind the stories: Laura Hillenbrand’s unique ability to tune into each of her characters and show how they overcame the many tragedies in their life. They say to write what you know. If that is true, I think Laura Hillenbrand’s example is a wonderful source for true inspiration!

So worry not my friends. Do not hold back. Hit the reset button. Go after those new goals with passion and enjoy the ride!
 

So what do you think? Are you ready for the New Year? Have you set new goals for the future? Have you read one of Laura Hillenbrand’s books? Do you remember watching the movie “Seabiscuit”? Have you had the opportunity to see “Unbroken” yet?
 

Cheers everyone! I hope that life is treating you well. And as always, thank you so much for all your support and wonderful comments!
Karen

 
 

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