contentment without conditions & health without strings

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, Balance88 Comments

During my time off (and even squeezed into the hectic weeks before Christmas), I did a lot of pondering, writing, and planning.  I’ve been reading old notes and taking new ones.  I’ve been thinking about my past successes and times when I was settled into a sweet spot in life and business.  I’ve also been looking at my failures and areas of disappointment to learn and grow from them.  As I’ve marinated on all of these things and how I want to approach the new year, two words kept rising to the top –

contentment & health

Two words that are often thrown around lightly, but when dissected, they are well-rounded and robust.  They encompass a lot and require a lot.

When I think about being defined as a contented, healthy person, I am filled with a sense of wholeness and calm.  And I know those are the two areas I want to focus on in 2019.  More than focus…  I want those words, posed in the form of a question, to be the filter that everything is sifted through.

Is this decision (however big or small) being made from a place of contentment?

Will this decision or action lead to improved health?

contentment without conditions

Contentment is something I’ve wrestled with for a long time.  Sometimes, I am embracing it and am genuinely satisfied.  Other times, I am restless and feel inadequate, like I’m missing something or missing out on something.  Something else needs to be added to the shopping list or to-do list.

In dwelling on the word contentment and allowing the meaning to fully expand in my thoughts, I have come to realize that I’ve been approaching it wrong.  I’ve been seeing contentment as only a destination and I often put conditions on it.  Contentment with contingencies, exceptions, or conditions isn’t really contentment at all.


And contentment (or the lack of it) colors so many things in our lives from our material possessions to how we look, our accomplishments, our talents, our possibilities, our abilities, our relationships, how we parent…  The list is endless.

I want contentment to color all of those aspects of my life.

I think contentment is found a thousand times a day.  It’s in all of the little decisions to not be petty or materialistic or jealous or selfish.  It’s in the individual choices to be satisfied, to choose joy, and to not measure our lives by the world’s standards.

health without strings

If you’ve read my blog for a few years, you know I have been on a rollercoaster with my weight and health.  I’ve done all sorts of diets and plans.  I’ve lost weight and gained weight.  I’ve stuck with it for months, even years, only to slip right back down the slope again.

So, I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t even want to talk about it here. I don’t even want to mention it, because it’s getting embarrassing.  It’s beyond embarrassing, really.  If I can’t get it together and keep it together in this area, I just need to shut up about it.

But, I know there are many, many, many people who feel the same way and share this very struggle.  We just can’t get it and keep it together in the area of health and fitness.

So, as I was dwelling on the word health for 2019, I was doing so with a bit of skepticism.  Not this again.  This cannot be starting another diet plan and another workout regimen.  This cannot be counting calories and eliminating food groups.  This has to be about health.  I’ve declared health as a goal before, but it honestly had strings attached.  Health had to come in the form of weight loss and a smaller pant size or it wasn’t worth my time and energy.

This needs to be about pursuing health without strings.

Making healthy choices for the sake of making healthy choices alone.

That means I don’t hop on the scale every day to see if I’m winning or losing.  It means that I celebrate making healthy decisions each day and trust that the benefits will come as those healthy decisions add up over time.  And this goes beyond food and fitness.  This encompasses mental and spiritual health as well as physical.

I’m smiling as I write all of this because I already feel overwhelmed and like I might be setting myself up for failure.  But, then I think through what is required, not in the full scope of all of 2019, but in smaller and more manageable increments of time.  I can choose health today.  I can choose contentment this hour.

And I go back to asking questions…

Am I pursuing this new business opportunity out of a place of contentment?  Or am I just doing it because I’m afraid of missing out?  Am I buying this product because I really need it?  I’ve thought about it and it’s a wise purchase?  Or is it because an ad or someone I follow on Instagram insisted it’s a must-have?  

Is staying up until midnight working on a blog post healthy?   Is it healthy to have a nice dinner out with Jeff when I’m not obsessing over a calorie calculator?   Is it healthy for me to have dark chocolate in the house? 

And I remember the journey is the goal.  As long as I’m on the journey, I am not failing.  I know I’ll stumble and trip and make bad decisions and wrong turns along the way, but that is a journey.  Otherwise, it’s a just a walk around an indoor track, which might be healthy and I might even be content doing so, but it’s not a journey.

So, here’s to contentment and health in 2019!

I’ll let you know how it goes and I’ll also share some practical boundaries and guidelines I’ve put in place to help me along in case it might be helpful to readers on a similar journey.

What is your focus for 2019?

contentment without conditions & health without strings

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88 Comments on “contentment without conditions & health without strings”

  1. Happy New Year….and here’s to opening up to new thoughts, ideas and different ways of both viewing, and doing things. I do not make resolutions…but I do ,often, pick a word to help me with my next journey around the sun ….this year it’s OPEN… new ideas, thoughts, ways of doing things…open to new experiences,…open to new adventures….it sounds to me like you are also being open to a different way of seeing and experiencing things….I predict an exciting , full, new year for both of us….here’s to a fabulous journey 👍😊

  2. The New Year is often a time of new hopes and dreams for many of us. As we grow older, those things change. I am older. Soon going to celebrate my 65th birthday. So I have probably made a lot of the same “resolutions” that the rest of the world does. For me, I am sure those new resolutions probably didn’t make it very long. So this year, I am focusing on an old idea with a much brighter return. Who am I in Christ? Who does Christ want me to be. How does he want me to spend my time? What pleases him for me to focus on. I hope to take the focus off me. Focus on those who need. Need Christ, need love, need a hand. I pray that if my focus is on Him, I will find Him in me. Will I fail. Absolutely, there will be days. But I know with His help, there will be great returns.

  3. Hi there! Thank you for your honest post–as always. I picked up the book “How to Be Well” by Frank Lipman this past summer after hearing him on a podcast. While there is a good portion of the book on food, he is much more holistic and encourages overall wellness. Perhaps worth at least a podcast listen for you to see if it would interest you in your current journey! Wishing you a content 2019!

  4. Thanks for sharing your comments on health! I’m right there with you, and usually it’s a frustrating place to be. Reading your thoughts though actually cracked me up! So, thanks! I’ve been coming to similar health conclusions, but I’m not entirely sure what it all amounts to day-to-day since I do like to at least try to stretch myself.

  5. Are you familiar with the Polish Christmas Eve (wigilia) tradition of breaking oplatek with your loved ones? “Contentment” was my wish for each and every one of my family members that night. Just saying the word seemed to yield a visible shift -a release- in the weight each was bearing in their tensed up, tight shoulders. What a beautiful word for you (and me!) in 2019 and beyond!

    1. Contentment is my word also. I’m retired and for the last 6 years I’ve volunteered so much that I’ve felt worn out and used. This year I’m working on being content. I’ve cancelled all by charitable board positions and my children’s science in the classroom volunteering. I’ve enjoyed it in the past but now i’m concentrating on peace within myself. It may be that contentment means I will volunteer again later this year; maybe not. But I’m trying to balance my life and wake up with the sense of peace within myself.

  6. Marion, here’s the question I ask myself now when making food decisions but it could apply to most any lifestyle decision:
    Will this make me live longer or will it just SEEM longer?!
    Happy Contented New Year.
    Pat McRee

  7. Added by Pat McRee:
    I spent the first year of my most recent cancer diagnosis driving to Whole Foods for $8 bottles of
    recently juiced kale and beets. Need I say more?!

  8. At the risk of starting a whole string of my-favorite-diet comments, I did want to mention the Trim Healthy Mama approach to eating. It isn’t all about weight loss (though that certainly happens too!), but seems to be a very balanced way of eating that promotes overall wellness and improved health. No food group is left behind, and sugar is cut out. They have a couple helpful cookbooks and though they offer some great food products to help in eating the THM way, they’re not necessary. The nicest part for those with a family is that they can still enjoy healthy, normal foods with those they love.

    1. YEEEEEESSSS! Trim Healthy Mama changed my life! I keep recommending them. 😉 Marion, look them up! It’s right where you sound like you are ready to be. Freedom, living life abundant, and health!

      1. I actually have read the book and I did try the plan. I lost weight, but I found it to be a little too restrictive in some areas and I had to think and plan it out so much! I really don’t need another plan. I know what to do and I just need to do it! That being said, I know that plan has been very effective for many!

  9. Happy New Year Marian! I absolutely loved your post for today. For years I felt like I was on that “merry go round” feeling like I would feel content if I reached this goal or had that material thing, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that living in the present and enjoying all the little moments in life is what our journey is all about. Once I fully grasped that idea, I felt like a different person and had such a new appreciation for life in general. Thanks for sharing your inner thoughts with us.

  10. Here’s my tip to good healthy eating: if it is not in its original state in the way God made it, or as close to that as possible (think of fresh meat already cut off the animal and in a package), don’t eat it. This will eliminate most problems. The best thing you can eat is fruit and vegetables, ALWAYS. You will never go wrong with fruits and vegetables eaten plainly as they come and as close to raw as possible (some vegetables are hard to eat raw, like broccoli, so steam them). Yes, you will have to cook from scratch, avoid restaurants, pass up the church potluck, etc., but it will be worth it. God designed plants to be the mainstay of our diet, full of nutrients, and they will see you through. Vegetables are also very filling thanks to the fiber. Do not be afraid of fruit, it is NOT the same thing as sugar. Fruit is full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants all bound up in fiber and living water, and it is essential to health. Best of all, it is beautiful, and delicious, and often fun to eat. There are many diet theories out there in this world, but if you stick to fresh foods vs. anything that is in a box or a can or a jar, you will likely achieve your goal. Eating this way is also WAY more colorful and a feast for the eyes as well.

    1. I started eating this way almost a year ago and it has been the most successful “diet” I have every undertaken. Eliminating bread, pasta, and processed sugar brought the biggest health benefits. Sometimes it’s difficult to get enough veggies in every day, but it”s definitely worth it. I feel so much better eating whole foods. Food goals weren’t even on my New Year’s Resolution for 2019 because I felt good about what I had already accomplished and could just continue with the habits I had made. It’s really very freeing not to think so much about food.

    2. I will have to agree! No animal products and at least 30% Raw! Better more, but 30 will do. I´ve been having the same issues until I did the following:

      First: Be sure your vitamin D level is right!!!!! Second: Be sure your vitamin D level is right!!!!! Third:… guess what ;-): Be sure your vitamin D level is right!!!!!
      If not, substitute (I had to take 20 times of the daily amount for 14 days to get my level up!). Be sure to also take vitamin K2 in the suggested dose, otherwise your body cannot absorb the D. Then: Make sure your calcium and magnesium is covered (2:1). That can happen by taking sango coral powder. Drink 2 glasses of wheatgrass a day for the chlorophyll which is like liquid sunlight. Within a few days you will notice how your body (and soul) starts to blossom and relax. Your hunger will reduce, you start craving good foods automatically, because you can finally feel the strength and the energy and god´s great gift in every pore and you start cherishing it.
      Vitamin D weakness prevents you from losing weight aside from all the other bad effects. After I filled up on it I was easily able to go on a 100% Rawfood diet for 40 days including a colon cure with sulphur. I had so much energy I sometimes didn´t know where to put it ;-)….and was wide awake from the second I opened my eyes in the morning. Now I eat 30-50% raw and otherwise I am vegan. What I don´t do is making a religion out of it. when I am invited somewhere I am usually okay with making exceptions, but it doesn´t happen often anymore because the cravings are gone. Reduce carbohydrates (because of the sugar it builds) and sugar of course. Problem we all have is that these foods make us addicts and I am convinced that sugar is as bad as any other drug.
      I usually gain weight easier when I am not centered. Then I somehow try to compensate by making poor eating choices. It tricks me into believing that I reward myself when instead I punish myself. Now I try to ask myself: What is left when everything around me would break away (family, job, friends, house…. you get the point). Nothing is there except the naked “Me” without any possessions. What defines me then? I admit I am still struggling to answer that, but I know that it´s essential for my future well being. I strongly believe when you have an answer to it you are strong from within and feel selfworthy enough to treat yourself as best as you could without hesitation. And then you can enjoy all of the mentioned above in a much different way and from the right place! Last but not least: it´s okay to share even when you think you fail. I´m sure people love you anyway or because of it. Plus what you see as failure might have helped many to take a step they otherwise wouldn´t have taken. But for your own salvation: go on this journey in silence to avoid the feeling of pressure. Wish you all the best!

  11. Thank you for being so transparent!! Weight loss is just the hardest and plays with our mind constantly! This is my year to make big changes and to be honest I’m just scared to death! What if I fail, again ! When I announced to my adult children that I was starting a new weight loss challenge they literally started laughing, before they even realized that it might hurt my feelings! Oh well, hopefully I can prove them wrong this time!!!! Love your thoughts on just pursuing healthy eating! What can be wrong with that strategy and seems so much better than that diet word!! Best to you in 2019!! Love your blog!!

  12. Lots of wisdom from our MMS community here. This past year I’ve had success with a bullet list I typed up on my computer – I check off fruit and vegetable servings every day. That’s it. I aim for 8 and I usually get close. And two walks a day. I’ve learned my body has it’s own idea of what I should weigh so I took the scale out of the bathroom. I count fruits and vegetables, not pounds!

    1. Love Janet’s mention of this practical idea–I adopted the same thing and have really enjoyed it. I use it to add any behavior I”m hoping to add or remove. Read more. Get enough water. Daily gratitude time. Donate one item each day. Limit gluten/sugar. Make someone smile/laugh, etc. I have 8-10 new or repeating behaviors each month and then color in the corresponding bullet block each evening before bed. It serves as an end of the day reflection period and I can measure progress while looking at something pretty. I know there are so many ideas out there for bullet journals. I’ve never been one to journal much, but have really enjoyed this practice as a way to track things I want to do. And I’m using it to contribute to my overall well-being. As always, I really enjoyed the post and thoughtful comments.

  13. I have seen your collections from the Blog. And I got few ideas for my next business from your articles it helps me give me inspirational method, not exactly whole but almost basics which will help me for this, So thanks for all the info which you provide us and keep sharing amazing stuff with us…

  14. I know you’re probably getting a lot of advice BUT if I could add my hat to the ring:

    Please read “It Starts With Food” and “Food Freedom Forever”! And follow Melissa Harwig on insta and get on her mailing list!

    I can’t recommend it enough!

    1. Marion already did Whole 30 a while back, though doing it again is always an idea.

      Marion, I’m right there with you. This time I know that sugar and white flour is my nemesis and it just doesn’t matter the plan if I can’t stay away from that. So, here’s to Day 7 of no sugar and four, real foods and not too much.
      Also, just have to inject the discovery of T Tapp exercise. I finally decided to buy her DVD’s after my friend raved about it for years. I needed something gentle enough on my body but challenging and effective. I’m liking it.

    2. Thanks for sharing! Yes, I read It Starts with Food and did Whole30. I did have success with it, but ultimately the changes didn’t stick beyond about a year. That’s on me, though. It’s a great program.

  15. Hey Marion,
    I’ ve followed you for a long time, and understand exactly what you’re feeling, as its my struggle too. You should read Deep Nutrition. It will give you the paradigm shift you need to change your lifestyle and eating habits permanently.

    Thanks for your great content, I always enjoy it.


  16. Of all the inspiring ideas and projects you share with us, I think this one resonates the MOST with me! I practice the “I just love right now” saying. It helps me identify the joy that comes from those “right now” moments. And the more I practice and acknowledge the gift of the present, the more I recognize the gift. Being aware and thankful of the “right now” in my life allows me to not get caught up in the “what ifs” and “I should be doing….” trap. A trap I’m MOST acquainted with. Anyway, I’m sending you warm thoughts and best wishes for the moments you love. Hugs from Texas,

  17. Happy New Year to you and your family! Back in 2010 I was severely overweight, had diabetes and just generally felt unhealthy. My husband and I got together and came up with a plan. We would cut out sweets ( we have big sweet “teeth”) and eat healthy from now on. So we ate mostly vegetables, chicken and fish from that day forward. It took me two years but I lost 50 pounds, my diabetes went away and, now, eight years later I have kept the weight off. We still eat healthy and, occasionally, have a sweet treat. What I found is that in order to lose weight and keep it off you need to change your lifestyle and, boy was it tough. But we are so glad we did it. Now we grow veggies in the summer and shop at the organic farmers market. We are in our 70’s.

    1. Such a great testimony for just knowing what you need to do and doing it! I know what I need to do and what works (I’ve lost 35lbs once and 20lbs another time), so I just need to make the changes and embrace the lifestyle.

  18. For me, I agree with Janet. We will never find contentment in ourselves. Your statement “And contentment (or the lack of it) colors so many things in our lives from our material possessions to how we look, our accomplishments, our talents, our possibilities, our abilities, our relationships, how we parent,”. will always leave you lacking. My situations in life have less to do with what is happening and more to do with how God is going to mold me to be more like Him through it and show His love to others as well. That is the story of the Bible….

    1. Yes, beautifully said! Even when I was 60lbs lighter, I still felt like I needed to lose weight, so it’s a heart/contentment issue certainly!

  19. 1. People have a natural weight – it’s genetic. That’s why you revert back after loosing weight.
    2. You have a dog. Perfect daily exercise.
    3. Eat what you want, within reason.
    4. Accept yourself, and live to enjoy life.

      1. I agree with Sandie,
        We weren’t created to all be the same size, if you feel good it probably means you’re at a healthy weight for your bone structure, height etc. I’m short so I can’t go over a certain weight because of the extra strain it puts on my knees. It helps if I eat as healthy as possible, drink lot’s of water, walk, and keep busy.
        You have done so well in so many aspects Marion I look forward to reading more about them in the upcoming year.
        Thank-you for sharing your inspiring creativity, and honesty……..All the best in the New Year

    1. Sandie, I agree, everyone is different. Not everyone is skinny, some are bulkier, some are tall, some are small, BUT: being overweight (meaning there is excess fat in your body which becomes toxic in many ways) is not natural. I told myself the same thing many times. It made sense, because I jumped back to a certain weight all the time and wouldn´t go beyond. So I thought that was my natural god given weight. As I became older though (and I am only 43) I wondered: is it supposed to be right that walking stairs is so hard. That walking the dogs is no more fun once I go uphill? Etc… 10Pounds more or less might be okay but otherwise I learned that we can only find our so called natural weight if we reset our body and live on natural food for quite awhile (unprocessed, lots of raw, lots of veggies, no sugar, .. you know what I mean). This has nothing to do with counting calories, it´s just what our bodies are designed for. Soooo, depending on how much overweight you are you might have to do this for 1 month, 6 months, a year or so… and once you have the desired weight, go on eating naturally and you will then experience your “natural weight”. As hard as this sounds: We cannot have natural weight by eating unnatural foods all the time…. but of course we are loveable souls no matter how much we put on the scale…bless you 🙂

  20. Contentment is my word for 2019. I like that you added healthy decisions to that goal. I am doing a gratefulness journal this year. Good luck on your journey.

  21. I have a lovely, little dish on my dresser that says, “Contentment is the enjoyment of what you already have.” It’s been a good reminder to me to be grateful for all that I have—to see the glass half full rather than half empty. Good luck on your journey.

    1. Yes! So true. I am quick to look at what needs to be done and what I need to work on. I’m thankful for what I have, but I don’t always take the time to intentionally think through it and express it.

  22. Loved your thoughts. My words rhatbcontinue through the years are balance and boundaries. As a former people pleaser and overly busy worker I keep finding that if I have good boundaries on my time and actions, and a good balance spirituality, physically and emotionally , I feel contented and have good health. 😍see what I did there? Lol Blessings to you as we all start the new year!❤️

  23. I loved this post and your words of wisdom. I was speaking to a friend today about her sister who is in by all means a miserable situation. My friend asked her how she was and she assured her that she was still happy and had joy in her life. It’s a great lesson for me to have contentment and joy regardless of your situation. There is always something to be grateful for. . Thanks for another reminder❤️

  24. Wise words! When we focus on contentment and self acceptance, the other pieces will fall into place. My focus for the year is quiet. I have already turned off the noise of Facebook by dropping out of that world. I do not have a television, but occasionally watch what I like (Poldark, for example) on my computer. I spend far more time reading than I did in the past, and also go to bed at an earlier hour. Best wishes for health and contentment in the New Year!

  25. Ahhh!!! Reading your post just now. Yep, I was thinking about what I wanted to focus on this year. I want to lose weight, and not fail, I want to stay on top of things with my business, I want to organize my whole house, and my garage, I want to get rid of crap we don’t use, I want to make time for daily workouts, I want to travel, and the list goes on and on. When I think of all the areas I am lacking I start to feel very overwhelmed and my mindset says you can do any of this, so why try? Then I decided there is a reason we are told to put God first. If we do, then everything else will fall in to place in His time. Not ours. So, I am going to focus on God and let Him guide everything else. Because honestly, it is all just too much for me. I’m only a human. So, if you decide to keep posting about it, please do because we can all use some encouragement.

    1. Sounds like we both have similar lofty goals! 🙂 Yes, I’ll definitely share anything I learn that might encourage.

  26. Everyone has something. My something has always been my weight. I love nutrition and have taken many classes. I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers and have fallen off the wagon many many times. Last spring after a
    trip to the Amish country I felt like I was going to explode from cooking that was like my mothers. So I went back to Weight Watchers and decided no matter what I am going to make a go of it. No one is going to do it for me and I am accountable for everything I eat. I always ask myself “Is it worth it?”Usually the answer is NO.
    So I am making progress and every day is a new day. I hope to be at a good healthy weight next May 25 the one year of my weigh in. I am just mad at myself for spending so many years on the “chubby” side but now I think I have
    figured it all out for myself. One thing no cookies or ice cream in the house. It works.
    I do treat myself to something special once a week and that is my something.

    1. Good for you, Mary! Yes, I agree that keeping treats out of the house is a good idea. I can still indulge, but it will be when I’m out, not setting routines of going to dark chocolate whenever I’m craving sweets or stressed.

  27. I loved this post today. It’s given me lots to think about. Years ago, I made a motto to pursue Peace & Happiness and if my steps didn’t lead me to that, then I needed to not follow ‘that’ path. Through the years, I’ve lost sight of those a few times. Capturing my thoughts are the most difficult. The battle is in my very own mind. You are correct, it’s not about winning or losing. I wish you success on this journey you find yourself upon. Thank you again for bringing these things to me. Finding Your Blog in my Email this past year has most certainly been a joy.

  28. My son is a Type 1 diabetic. We all follow a diabetic diet (no refined sugar, whole grain everything, complex carbohydrates, etc.) at our house because that’s the way I cook and shop for the entire family. It is a wonderful, healthy diet that makes it easy to stay fit and trim, so when I hear people complaining about weight gain, I just tell them to eat what we eat! If a child can do it without complaint, then I have no sympathy for whiners.

    1. Yes, well put. I have a type 1 diabetic son, too, so I often think of his restrictions and how he has to weigh and measure everything. If he can do it, I certainly can, too.

  29. I so needed these words of introspective intuitiveness. God Bless you Sweet lady Marian…. thank you for taking the time to share with all of us. God Speed… xoxoxo

  30. You have done so much in such a short amount of time.
    Please don’t judge yourself, be amazed at your smart, industrious self, and do what feels right for you.
    You are living in the best part of your life, with a family at just the right age…..all of you. Your parents are happy and healthy….love all of you.

    We are all proud of you.

  31. It takes a certain amount of mental space to make self care a priority so understand you will have to spend some time thinking/reading about it in order to stay motivated. Give yourself a break as far as living up to some diet or exercise plan someone else put together! Decide on your own what simple changes you want to make and allow yourself some time to incorporate them into your life. Don’t overthink, and don’t attempt too many changes at once. Maybe drink more water, eat an apple every day and take a walk with Sebastian every day. Or whatever your version of that turns out to be. But remember that your track record doesn’t have to be perfect! You are going to have days where none of your intended things happen and that’s ok. If you are too obsessed with it, the stress of living up to it outweighs any benefit you may get. And I find that self discipline is a muscle that gets stronger with use so it’ll get easier as you get going.

    And you may want to look up hygge, a Danish word that refers to contentment. Denmark is reported to be the happiest nation on earth. 😊 Check out American Cozy by Stephanie Pedersen, a book on the subject.

  32. Well, so many good ideas and plans have been mentioned here, I don’t know that I have anything to add. I have never really had a struggle with my weight but the theme of Contentment resonates with me very much. I have been in a living situation for the past almost-three years that I am not happy with and can not really see a way out of. At least for now. I have conflicting feelings about different aspects of the situation which makes it really difficult to come to a solution that is acceptable to me. I have been dealing with it poorly, I feel, and feeling so much stress. Last spring I became ill with an infection and spent ten days in the hospital hooked up to IV antibiotics to find which medication would work to clear it up. I’ve been through two surgeries as a result of the infection and many doctor appointments. My energy has been very low and that has frustrated me no end because I have many interests that I would like to be following and can’t due to fatigue.

    Recently I somehow have come to the conclusion that I have to accept the situation that I’m in for the present and STOP FOCUSSING ON THE NEGATIVE. I really MUST shift my focus to the many positive things in my life and become aware of things that I can be contented with. It sounds like a simple solution to dissatisfaction, but, of course, it is easier said than done. But, I do believe that my health depends on it. I can’t remove the sources of stress right now except for one: that is the self-talk that tells me how awful it is and how hopeless it is and how there is no solution. I MUST stop that line of babble in my mind! I think an enormous part of being contented with one’s life has to do with making the decision to be content and focussing on what’s positive. So, simple as it may seem, this has been a revelation to me and the theme of my New Year aspirations.

    I appreciate your post, Marian. It is very timely for me and I will look forward to keeping up with how things progress for you and the other readers for whom this subject is important.
    Happy New Year to you and your family and here’s to CONTENTMENT 2019! (Raise your glass but only put orange juice in it!)

  33. I love these thoughts! You have made me think more about what contentment and health mean in my own life. I loved when you said, “the journey is the goal.” How can we truly experience this life we have been given if we don’t enjoy every step along the path we are traveling. Everyone stumbles, the hope is that we get back up and continue along the journeys path. Thank you for inspiring all of us and for being honest and open!

  34. Stacey, today I bought a book called, 100 Hygge Challenges (Experience the Danish Art of Happiness.). It was on the sale end cap at my Target store, marked down to $3. I flipped through it and liked some of the challenges, mostly simple. I had not heard of Hygge (pronounced hue-gah), but for $3 it interested me. I will check out American Cozy. I am 75 and still looking for contentment practices.

    1. I am going right to Amazon/Used to buy it for my husband’s birthday soon.
      He is a wonderful man but his mother named him “doubting Thomas” for a
      good reason. I think this will be a game changer for him. Thank you!

  35. Thank you for openly expressing your true feelings for the New Year. Contentment and health are a big part of what our life is based on. I, of course struggle right alone with you.
    I think there’s a lot of interest in this post and look forward to all of us inching into 2019 with a new beginning!!!🎉

  36. Thank you for being honest in your post. I changed my lifestyle about a year and a half ago and the result was weight loss. I eat lots of fruit veggies, chicken and fish, and minimal bread and sugar. I chose to change at that time because everything else felt out of control and I could control what I ate if I put my mind to it. I’m not perfect and I still struggle at times but progress comes with the process, not of being perfect in the process all the time. When I struggle it’s usually because food is a substitute for something else I need that I can’t quite make happen. I also saw a quote years ago: “If I don’t take care of my body, where will my spirit live?” –that really resonated with me.

    Contentment comes as we accept where we are and happily take one day at a time–and we grow from our trials and challenges. You accomplish so much! Wishing you success as you explore contentment and health. I know I’ll learn from your experiences, too.

  37. Thank You Marian. Thank you for sharing some of your innermost thoughts on subjects that are plaguing a lot of us in the crazy, wonderful world we live in. Your thoughts have echoed mine. I am striving to shut out the noises around me and focus on what gives me peace and joy. Your ideas and experiences would greatly be appreciated by this reader. I appreciate your willingness to venture on this subject while so many others are trying to persuade us to ‘get more, do more”. We need to all learn how to be grateful and content and learn that working hard for something we want takes time and effort. You have shown us that and I admire that about you. Please share more of this in the future. Keep up the good work!

  38. I’m already pretty content but have had some serious health issues in the past two years and I would love to lose some of my weight gain. I have an aversion to counting calories or anything else and I have no interest in the latest, greatest diet fad. Most of them have been proven wrong over time haven’t they?

    I encourage you to read this book; The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jason Fung, Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Extended and Alternate Day Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung.

    I read it one week ago, I already feel better. More clear minded and focused. Amazingly, I have already lost five pounds with barely even trying. The lovely thing is, that it isn’t something to do, it something to NOT do.

  39. Hi Marian,
    This was such a timely post! Reading the comments shows that we are not alone in this journey…whether to lose weight, embracing healthy lifestyles, clearing out the “noise” in our life. As I have read, the “diet” or lifestyle approach that is best for each one of us is the one we will stick with! It is not the same for everyone. I am on the same journey…trying to lose weight, get healthy. Fad diets and programs and points have their place….and work for a lot of people which is great….but obviously, for the long run, has not worked for me or I would not be making the same goals every Jan. 1st. This year I have decided that being more “mindful” and “intentional” is the way I am going to approach this. I am tired of putting myself in a box….feeling that if I am unsuccessful with the latest diet fad or craze or what-have-you…that I have failed. Being mindful and intentional about moving more and eating well and enjoying life is my approach this year. Here’s to us all….may we reach our goals and have the best year yet!

  40. I admire you so much. In addition to being talented in “all things home” you are thoughtful and REAL. Thank you for inspiring!

  41. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I believe my new favorite word will be contentment – it is so descriptive of what I struggle for daily. Weight gain/loss is the bane of my contentment and I am now going to set my sights on healthy living and reprogramming my thoughts in that regard. Again, thank you.

  42. I love your blog. I want to chime in on self-care. Gratitude is my word for this year. I am 77 and six months. I have three adult children and six granddaughters. I am so blessed. But, my husband has COPD and struggles to breathe all day and all night. I have the responsibility to manage our home and finances. The challenge is to realize I am exactly where I am supposed to be today. Life is a process and acceptance is the key to happiness.
    You are also so blessed. Fabulous career, creative talent, and a loving family. But you are dealing with a life threating disease with your son’s diabetes. I call it living with Serenity and Calamity at the same time. Our species gives us the strength to endure almost anything. You are young, healthy, and in love. What a great combination. You are what I call an Earth Angel. Thanks for giving me the chance to share my wisdom.

  43. goal: to create without deadlines….I usually set imaginary deadlines in my own mind, not real world expectations….I want to create calmly
    goal: to be healthy….I love healthy food and love to cook, I just don’t set my self up for success in that part of my life….I want to it to come naturally, not as a fight over cheesecake vs. fruit 😉
    goal: to love more fully…..I need to cultivate my closest relationships better…..I want to be more open and more engaged with the ones I love the most

  44. Have you considered hiring a personal trainer? Someone you have interviewed to find they have struggles like your own and have come out on the ‘other side’? NOT one who is here to punish us for our humanity! Someone who’s been there and is realistic.

  45. My focus for 2019 is my personal fine art. I have wasted too much time taking bad advice or trying to fit in with a community that doesn’t support art or creativity. It is disappointing, but I don’t have to teach and sell my at where I live. I can just live here and be happy for the slower pace and fresh air – and the inspiration it brings. I can, and do, drive to the places where my art is embraced and supported. 2019 needs to be the year I seek out new markets.
    I have always found your focus, work ethic, and commitment to your vision inspiring. The personal struggles can be difficult, I have mine as well. But, I know you will make peace with them and come out on top. You are one of the most positive and inspirational people I follow.
    Good luck for all of your goals in 2019. Cut yourself some slack and try to step back to see the successes – I will try to do the same. Thank you for sharing your story.

  46. My word for the year is mindful.
    I’ve been listening Meg Meranus from Healthy Thin Menatality ( Diets are Fattening ).
    She has a workbook session going on now on facebook live. Very different take on eating. You wait on hunger. Very simplistic approach.

  47. You are truly a woman who ponders (love that word!) and thank you for sharing. Contentment is something I think also gets stronger with age. I turned 68 this year and though I still want for things….I am truly content with what a great life I have. That said, the weight thing…..if we could get off that wheel, we wouldn’t be thinking about it in the first place. Because we are just built this way. Some people are blessed by eating to stay alive. I diet and then when I fall off, I can’t help it. I LIKE to eat and WANT to eat. So that is a kink in me. Doesn’t make it any easier but I know it is just part of my DNA. So here’s to a new year and TRYING to get back to the healthy I was in October….before Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year……Valentine’s Day is lurking but not gonna fall for that cupid! Prayers your 2019 is all it can be!!

  48. I am going to try something you seem to do regularly- reflect. I just graduated, at 54, from an accelerated nursing program. It quickly, seemingly, became obvious early in the program, that nursing was not what I expected. I thought, what in the world did I just do?! Am I going to be settling, again, for something that isn’t what I want? Upon reflection, especially as i was nearing the end, I discovered that no, I’m not settling. I changed my lens, reframed my view. And I realize it’s something I will continually need to practice doing. Reflecting along my journey. Seeing things in new ways that I may not necessarily see when I first look. Happy 2019 and here’s to wherever the journey takes us!

  49. Happy New Year! Your post spoke to me. Your journey through weight loss sounds like mine. I ran a marathon, was running up to five miles a day! Then I moved. And everything changed and I gained all the weight back and more. And every time I would think about getting out again to run to lose weight, it would be overwhelming and I would’v go. Then I realized one morning that I can BARELY put my own socks on without getting out of breath. That was my wake up call. This year for me is about being consistent. Going every day that I work and just walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes is better than not going at all. Good luck to you and all will be well because we’re doing this for our health.

    1. Oh, I totally get it! There was a time in my life when I worked out for four hours/day! I would do kickboxing, pilates, an hour on the elliptical, and an hour of weight training! I just didn’t have kids and my husband was working on his undergrad degree, so I spent my free time in the gym. I have also completed P90x, so a part of me feels like walking on the treadmill isn’t enough. It has to be hardcore or nothing at all and that just isn’t true! I have been letting the “best of the past” be the enemy of the “good right now”. (Man, there is a whole post just in that concept!)

  50. Have you considered working with a health coach? We help clients create lifestyle change (as opposed to a short term diet or exercise regime) that is sustainable by looking at how all areas of life are interconnected and impact health, creating a strong vision of your health and what you want it for, and building new habits by creating goals that are realistic and attainable. A health coach would work with you to create small changes that can be implemented and realistically can be sustained longterm, help you plan strategies for working around obstacles that might pop up and get in the way of forward progress, and provide support and accountability as you work towards lasting lifestyle change. Typically health coaches work with clients for at least 3-6, as true habit change takes time. Many times, people who work with health coaches know exactly WHAT they need to do to be healthy, but need additional support to get there.

    Just something to consider. I am not posting my website here, as honestly, I am just sharing info, not trying to promote my business. 🙂

    1. Kristina, I actually have worked with coaches in the past either for physical training or for nutrition (and even for business). I agree that having that knowledgeable accountability is so valuable! I’ve done so many plans and have done most of them on my own, so I know how to do it and what to do, I just need to make the habit changes and DO IT! I will definitely keep this in mind, though, if I am still struggling on my own!

  51. Hi Marian,

    Now that both my husband and I are retired, we want to stay active, such as taking some classes together–language, art, maybe some kind of building skill. We also want to become more active in our community. And I am always looking for new ways to fix healthy but delicious food that we can both enjoy. I have a new vegetarian cookbook as well as a Korean cookbook, and I can’t wait to try many of the recipes I’ve seen inside both of them.

    When I was 24, I weighed about 115 at 5’3″. Forty years later, I am within 10 lbs. of that, and I’m working right now to get those extra 10 off. I have never followed a strict diet plan, never cut out any food groups. But I am very mindful of the contents in my food, the calories, current research (and there is so much contradiction out there!) and my portion sizes. The best weight loss is done with healthier habits achieved and maintained over time. And in my experience, calories do count. That said, I never let myself get really hungry.

    I have always been a walker, and when I was younger, I did a lot of aerobic dance. It’s too hard now, so I do modified versions in my kitchen. I walk my dogs daily, weather permitting. I know it’s cold where you are–me too–but if possible, I’m out with them at least 30 minutes a day. I never, ever overdo it. Some days I feel like walking longer, some days my walks are shorter. It’s all okay.

    We are all different, and we all have to do what works for us. I don’t feel good without some animal protein. Veggie smoothies will never be on my menu. Sometimes I will have a small piece of birthday cake or some white rice. I just try to eat mostly healthy versions of my favorite foods, within reason. My food has to taste good. And if I eat too much one day, oh well, I just start back in the next day.

    So your goal to be healthy is a great one. Don’t give up, because being healthy is the best thing you can do for yourself. It’s a lot easier going into older age when you have optimal health. I wish you all the best in this. You are inspirational to so many people. And I believe that if you find the healthy way to eat that makes you happy, you will find the weight loss you are looking for.

    1. This is a wonderful approach and very similar to what I’m doing! Thank you for the encouragement. 🙂

  52. I completely understand where you are at. I don’t even want to think about how much money and time I’ve spent in the past decades on on diets and programs that only worked for me for a short time. I became bored with the process, and then beat myself up for seemingly being a failure. I was diagnosed with type II diabetes nine years ago, and that was very depressing. What came of that was a realization that I had been neglecting myself in an effort to be all things to everyone else. I’ve learned to carve out some me time, and to find healthy food substitutions and choices I can live with, without feeling deprived. Over this time, I gradually lost weight without really having to envy what others are eating, and now actually prefer my food choices as they make me feel better. I’ve gotten back to doing some hobbies that were shelved for a long time because I was so busy doing things for everyone else. My next big hurtle is downsizing my belongings, which will be a challenge as I’ve lived in the same place for 25 years. I’m looking forward to less “things”, more space, and focusing on what is really important to me. Your goals/concepts for 2019 are good ones. Don’t let the world’s demands and clutter get in your way…

  53. I love the line, “I can choose healthy today, I can choose contentment this hour.” Thank you for that, and for “going there” again. God bless you and your family with another great year!

  54. Happy New Year Marian! I really enjoyed reading this.. I’ve decided that this year I will show myself more grace when feeling like I’ve disappointed myself, be more present in life as opposed to going through the motions and live life without fear…I tend to be an over thinker and sometimes feel like I miss out on opportunities because of “what ifs”. I actually got to meet you in Knightdale this past year by telling myself to “just go to The Mercantile” as opposed to “I really should do this or that tonight.” So glad I decided to be more present! Good luck to you in 2019! I hope it’s your best year yet!

  55. Hi Marian, I think your honesty is lovely. I’ve found its so easy to be hard on ourselves. The best thing I heard along the way was “I’m trying to be healthy just for one day – today.” To me. It shifted the gravity of it all, and made it easier to rebound without epic disappointment. I wish you MANY days of contentment, health and joy in 2019!

  56. I have fibromyalgia, diagnosed in 1990. If you don’t have it praise God and pass the basket.. I proabably get less than 1/8 done everyday of what you do. I thank God for what I do get done and for every “normal” day I have.

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