Heart Choices: 2008-09-07 -->

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Honoring My Heritage

America is a melting pot of people who immigrated from many other lands. My relatives all came from Norway. That's right; both my mother and father's side of the family came from Norway. And even though I am born and bred in the USA, I choose to honor my Norwegian heritage. The Viking picture on the left is one of my mom and dad attending a Sons of Norway event.

My parents were very proud of their Norwegian background. They both spoke fluent Norwegian, especially when they didn't want us kids to know what they were saying. Although I picked up many words and phrases, in retrospect I wish I had learned more of the language when I was younger.

I had the opportunity to visit Norway once and loved the country. I met many of the relatives who still live there. My mother's side of the family lives in the general area of Oslo, which is also the capital of Norway. My dad's side came from an area further north near Trondheim.

My grandfather grew up in a small town called Sumstad. I was able to visit the old farm that has been in my family for many years. When my grandfather came to America, he took the name of his town as his last name. I heard that this was quite common. He came through Ellis Island and settled in Brooklyn, New York where he met my grandmother. She had also come to the US and settled in Brooklyn. They met in a Norwegian church.

Growing up, we often ate many of the traditional Norwegian foods. I still enjoy making Norwegian waffles which are very sweet and not the typical American waffles. Yulekake is a Christmas cake and of course, we loved Norwegian meatballs, which are different from Swedish. Whenever I visit my aunt in California, she makes many of my favorite Norwegian foods that I enjoyed while growing up.

My husband is often fascinated by my Viking past, especially since he's a mix of Italian, Greek, Russian and a few others. But he's grown to enjoy many of the foods and customs.

I guess I've thought about my Norwegian heritage recently because I met a "new friend" on Twitter who lives in Tromso, Norway. That is very far north. She has a blog called My Little Norway and writes about her life and family. She has taken some beautiful photographs that are displayed on her blog. I hope you'll take some time to visit her site.

While I'm so grateful to live in the United States, I also choose to honor where I came from. I am thankful that my parents and grandparents shared the stories and many of the customs with me and my siblings. Takk tusen (Thanks so much) Mom and Dad!


Thankful Thursday

We can choose to be thankful. Today is September 11th; the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country. I vividly remember that morning when our sense of peace was shattered. Many lives were lost on that fateful day.

My eyes were glued to the television screen as I watched in horror. I'm sure you can remember exactly where you were when you first heard the news. But we can be thankful that we've not had any more attacks on our soil. I thank God for that.

I recently discovered a blog that featured thankful Thursdays. Iris wrote about how we tend to give thanks on Thanksgiving. Why not share your blessings on a weekly basis each Thursday? Today is a good day to begin a thankful Thursday. It's a choice we can make to have a thankful heart. What are you thankful for today?


Fear of Change

Fear of change is very common. Think about it. Do you have a tendency to stay in your comfort zone? I know I do. Even if that comfort zone includes some unhealthy behaviors, making new changes can be hard. It might require learning some new skills and that takes time and effort. Oh know, one more thing on my to-do list!

If you want to begin making healthier choices, change is inevitable. Change can generate a sense of anxiety and insecurity. After all, we tend to cling to stability and how we've always done things. But if those "things" are not helping and instead hurting you, it may be time to really examine them and make a few new decisions. Sometimes the thing you fear may actually turn out to be fun and good for you.

I remember as a teenager, I was afraid of a roller coaster at Coney Island called the "Cyclone". My friend Kathy invited me to go with her neighbors for several years in a row. We lived on Long Island and they would rent a bus and we all piled on and went to Coney Island for the day. It was lots of fun until Kathy and I would get in line for the Cyclone. Once we got to the front of the line, we'd chicken out. We'd done this so many times over the years but we finally DID IT! We bit the bullet and rode the Cyclone...and guess what? We loved it. We loved it so much we got back in line and rode it again.

What about you? Maybe you were never very athletic and so you can't imagine attending an exercise or dance class. What if I look like a jerk? Well, let me tell you that you wouldn't be the first one.

I love dance but the last dance class I took was way back in sixth grade. Taking a dance class at my age? Yes, I was scared and afraid I'd look like a fool. But, I timidly signed up for Dance it Off. It was an exercise dance class that incorporated jazz combinations along with floor work, and abdominal and muscle toning. It was being offered at a dance studio in Phoenix called Destiny Dance.

Now talk about intimidating. The instructor of this class was the owner of the dance studio and she was Sheryl Cooper, the wife of rocker, Alice Cooper. You remember the song "School's Out", don't you?

I must say that I did make a fool of myself in that class. I'm not very flexible so it was difficult doing splits (!!!) and even touching my toes without bending my knees. But I had fun, I learned so much and I made new friends. I had to get out of my comfort zone but in the process, I gained so much more.

Sheryl Cooper turned out to be a wonderful, kind and very patient teacher. She and her husband are Christians and help out in the community through their foundation called Solid Rock.

Sheryl is also a very pursuasive person. Destiny Dance has a dance recital every year. And guess who participated that year? Yours truly...in a dance recital at my age? YES I DID! That's me in the last row, 3rd from the right.

So, if I can make a fool of myself you can too! Get out of your comfort zone and try something new and healthy. You never know. You might just enjoy it and you'll be learning something new and fun.

Do you have any stories to share of something you might have feared but did anyway? I'd love to hear from you.

Time Perspective

Time perspective is so important when you're working on making changes in your life. We live in a world of instant everything. Our microwave society fosters instant gratification. We've become so used to not having to wait for anything.

I'm guilty of this as well. If I want a cup of coffee, I use my Keurig single cup coffee maker and in seconds, voila - I've got a hot tasty cup of coffee. (It really is good!)

When you're trying to incorporate new choices in your life, it can be very frustrating when it seems to take so long.

But don't get discouraged! A worthwhile goal takes time to accomplish. If you keep doing the same things, the results will continue to be the same. If you want to take a new path, you may need to learn some new skills. So, begin to cultivate a more realistic time perspective.

Think about it, anyone can lose weight in the short term by following a specific diet. But, how many people keep the weight off for the long term? More commonly, they gain the pounds back along with a few more.

Instead of a short term fix try thinking about taking a long term perspective to making important changes in your life. You may be trying to lose weight, quit smoking or start an exercise routine. Whatever it is, give it time. As I wrote in a previous post, habits take time to develop. It takes 21 days to form a habit and 100 days to make it automatic. If it's a worthwhile goal, it's worth pursuing as a life time habit.

I want to leave you with a picture I received from my good friend Jamie. She just gave birth to her fifth baby on Saturday! Is this picture precious or what? Finally, Karli gets to be a big sister instead of the being the youngest.

Raising a family of five takes time and dedication... and a long term perspective. Congratulations Jamie and Todd!
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