Learning to be Kind

I'm learning what it means to be kind — to myself.

The world tells us being an introvert is not the sort of person we should be — extroversion creates the successful person. They get ahead in relationships, ahead in business, they get ahead...But I think slowly but surely this barrier is being broken.

Personally, I am an introvert — but there is such a preconceived notion of what that personality type acts like — it is not always the case. Get to know me and I'll seem anything but introverted. What it comes down to is how each personality type recharges.

The extrovert recharges by being around other humans — with lots of interaction.

The introvert recharges by being in the quiet — spending quality time alone.

The extrovert is worn down being alone.

The introvert is charged up by being alone.

And for me? I am learning how to honestly care for me, as an introvert and accepting the fact and denying everything I've heard that being introverted is bad.

Early this morning at the gym, I had a revelation — what being kind to myself means. Being kind means taking time for myself and basking in that opportunity. Some of you reading right now are probably saying "duh!" Truly, this is a revelation because finding and taking time to just take care of me is something that is hard to learn. This does not mean doing housework alone, it means spending time for self-care. Self-care may mean sitting outside on a sunny day reading a book. Or it may mean collapsing in the silence of a Saturday afternoon watching a movie; or taking time to write a blog post; or rising in the morning to go for a run.

Today this is what my morning looked like (and it was oh so good for the introverted soul):

Buzz buzz buzz — My eyes slowly open, I don't want to get up, it is dark, sunrise is still not even near. I think to myself, if I don't get up now, I won't get to the gym. So I roll out of bed, tie on my running shoes, fill up my water bottle and head out the door. Silently I drive to the gym. I walk in, keep to myself — this is me time. I jump on the machine and start to run, slowly at first then harder and harder. And I hear myself breath — inhale, exhale — breaths of life — breaths of kindness. Three miles in, I look at the clock, disappointed that I need to go, I need to get ready to start my day — but all I can think about is: Kara, try to remember this tomorrow morning when your alarm goes off: This is your time. This is your self-preservation. This is what it is like to be kind to yourself. This is your time before the day even begins, before the crazy gets started at work. Remember this...

As I leave the gym, the sun is just barely starting to peak over the horizon and I was already kind to myself today. I feel charged up and ready to conquer this day.

What are you — introverted or extroverted? Do you know what it means to be kind to yourself? Share what this is like for you — we all have something to learn.

Finding True-Self

Life is circular, we find ourselves at a point that we believe is the peak, yet we fall around the circle and eventually hitting that so called peak yet again. And so it goes...

How do we find our true-selves amongst life's noise and chaos? Where do we find our calling? How do we find what we were made to do? Is this supposed to be a continual feat to the end?

I do believe that we are supposed to grow and learn our entire lives, so yes, I believe finding our true-selves is something we continue to do through all of our existence. Yet, I also believe that we need to find peace in the life stage we are in. This is hard.

Personally I am learning a lot. Learning how to make the most of my current life stage, to remember my blessings, to feel full and satisfied of what is here and now.

From the fullness of His grace we have
all received one blessing after another.
John 1:16

But the question is, how do I find my true-self? Or more than finding, is it creating our true-self? We need to cut ourselves out of the human mold and build ourselves from within — our answers are in our own individual hearts — the answer to our identity. The journey to find your true-self is probably the longest journey to embark upon but I wholeheartedly believe it's going to be well worth it.

So cheers for a chance to invent ourselves — our true-selves. Reach deep within and reconnect with yourself because that is where you'll find truth.

Let's become the most authentic version of ourselves.

Cactus Tacos

The very first time I had cactus was years ago visiting a friend in Arizona (of course, right?) and then was reminded of this treat while in Mexico. Upon my return, I told Husband that I ate cactus almost everyday — at this point *cue begging* Husband kindly asked that I make cactus tacos for him since he didn't join me in Mexico. Of course, being the kind, loving and caring wife I am...I made cactus tacos.

3 large cactus leaves
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
1/2 jalapeño, deseeded and diced (more if you like spicy!)
1 carrot stick, cut into matchsticks (I used about 5-6 baby carrots because that's what was on hand)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 avocado
1 lime
1 bunch of cilantro
Salsa, to serve

Use a sharp knife and carefully cut away any spikes on the cactus. When shopping for this ingredient, it may be called nopal or even prickly pear. Then, carefully cut the tough edge off each piece and set aside. Rinse the cactus under cool water to wash away any remaining blemishes.

Next, slice the red onion, dice the jalapeño, tomatoes, cut the carrot into thin matchsticks and mince the garlic. Lastly, rough chop the cilantro and slice the avocado and lime — set aside.

Drizzle some olive oil on a grill pan and turn the heat to high. Sear the cactus until they're cooked through and the edges are slightly blackened, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Drizzle a little more olive oil in a large sauté pan, then sauté the onions, carrot, garlic, jalapeño, and tomatoes over high heat for about 3-4 minutes or until the veggies are soft.

While the veggies are sautéing, dice the cactus. Add them into the sauté pan with the other veggies, stir and then remove from the heat.  

On the grill pan, warm the tortillas over medium heat until they're soft and pliable.

Fill each shell with the cactus mixture, an avocado slice, salsa, then garnish with cilantro and a lime wedge.

Have you ever eaten cactus? On a fun vacation or exotic spot? How was it prepared? Please share!

You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.
Julia Child

New Perspectives from Mexico

You know how you always hear that life goes faster the older you get? Well, yea, I'd have to agree! Life has been absolutely flying in my neck of the woods. Let's see what's been happening....spending time with dear friends; a lovely housewarming party in our new home; crazy work schedules; and last but not least, an amazing eight day getaway in Mexico. There is something about having no connectivity to your routine world. I believe that God knows exactly what we need in the timing we need it — He was right, my soul needed time away from the routine life. Mexico was a time of fresh breaths and new perspectives on life. I arrived home last night but am already reflecting on my thankfulness.

While away I spent time soaking in the sun, received a relaxing massage in a beach cabana, ate way too much, spent quality time with my family and read a thought provoking and life changing book, Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed. The author, Glennon Doyle Melton, is authentic, hysterical, wise and really hits on life's basics that are sometimes just so hard to grasp or live-out day-to-day. In the end, it is all really simple, we just have to remember:

We belong to each other.
Love wins.
We can do hard things.
Life is brutiful (brutal + beautiful).

Anyway, this book deserves a second or maybe even a third read. But for now, I need to unpack and do my laundry — welcome back to the real world — I'm off to put these new perspectives to use. Happy Sunday all.