When One Door Closes . . .

Be the door that opens to show more joy to someone. Be the door that opens to bring joy.

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I have been on full-time medical leave from my career as a financial advisor with a Fortune 500 firm since August 29, 2013.  To say that this “plot twist” has been an adjustment would be an understatement of the largest magnitude.  Fortunately, my personality tends to look for silver linings and I have found several:

1) Deeper compassion – I always thought of myself as a compassionate person before my severe illness struck.  Let me just say, I see now just how much growing I needed in this department.  One thing I’ve learned, if you see someone who looks healthy or “just looks overweight” riding in one of those mechanized shopping carts heed the words, “Judge ye not.”  Pain and physical problems are more invisible than I ever comprehended until I developed the invisible illness of fibromyalgia (FM) and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).

2) Greater appreciation of friends – Of course, we all value our friends, but until I was gently booted out of the work force and found myself home alone while everyone else was busy working, I didn’t realize how important it was to truly appreciate my friends which includes being able to reach out to them and know that they will share their time and attention with me to make me feel less alone.

3) Conviction to listen and trust my body and mind – If you believe in your heart that you have an illness and your doctor tells you that you’re fine or they decline to perform a lab test you request, either stand your ground until the physician changes his or her mind, or immediately find a new doctor who will listen to all of your story and not just a part of it.

4) Learning to heal through Mother Nature – I have always been interested in living more organically.  Today, with the nudging of my illness, I have organic squash, cucumbers and watermelon plants growing in the garden.  It hasn’t been easy, but it has given me tremendous satisfaction and can only imagine the thrill I’ll have when I get to walk out to my backyard and grocery shop!  In addition, I have turned to dōTERRA’s Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) essential oils as a resource in healing my body naturally through their use.  I have since made my own organic deep conditioner for my hair (that is now super, silky soft!) and my own pet shampoo which both kitties actually loved.  I couldn’t believe how calm they were while I bathed them.  I love using these oils so much that I became a consultant and now have my own website where my friends, family and fans can learn about these oils and purchase those that speak to them.

5) More sharing of self - I am extremely lucky to have friends and family in my life, but being forced to slow way, way, way, waaaaaay down has caused me to realize how busy everyone is with day to day living.  I once was one of those people who would wake up, go to work, come home, go to bed, repeat.  What I realize now is that during that time I have had seriously ill friends, retired coworkers, elderly relatives who were alone to whom – I am appalled to admit - I did not give more than the passing thought.  Sure, I thought about these people, but did I pick up the phone to check in with them?  Did I write a note just to say that I cared?  Did I take time one Saturday to bake some cookies and drive them over to share?  More times than I care to remember, I did not.  Now, I take time to do that.  I admit it has bothered me that not as many friends, former coworkers and family members as I liked have reached out to me, but in all honesty, I know why.  They’re busy living life and haven’t had the same eye-opening experience as I.

I hope you’ll learn from my own experience to save yourself from possible later regret and to bring more joy to yourself and others.  After all, isn’t that really what life is about???

Peace ☮ Love ♥ Light ☾ and Magic ✰

Cecilia Hanna, The Good Juju Goddess

Need a Road Map?

Your GPS to Good Juju

Your GPS to Good Juju

I know sometimes that being the GJ goddess – of what I hope is an inspirational, motivational, fun, uplifting slice of FB – can appear as if I have it all together, so here’s the real deal.

If you are struggling, I understand because I have my own daily grit and grime to deal with.  If you are ill, I feel your pain and want you to know that you are not alone.  I am currently on full-time medical leave for several serious issues which we now believe to be mitochondrial failure – the body literally winding down.

If you are mired in what I call the deep, black hole of depression, I too have been there, so far deep that I could no longer see any light above. All of us are human.  We have our great days and our gag days, our ups and our downs.  Like the tide, our thoughts and emotions ebb and flow, moving from high to low, then high again.

Some of you may ask, “If what you say is true, then how do you rise above it?”  I have a book on the subject germinating in my brain, but, for now, I’ll list the first three things that I have found to be imperative, my GPS to Good Juju, if you will.  :)

Gratitude – Find something to be thankful for EVERY DAY and each time you realize that you have slipped into the dark side to dwell.  After all, if you are reading this right now it probably means you have a computer or phone, an internet connection, little modern day miracles – that when broken down to see how they actually came to be in your possession – are truly awesome.  Feeling grateful for something – anything – down to the marrow of your bones will bring you back to the path of Light.

Persistence – Remember that after a low tide there is ALWAYS a high tide to follow.  Never, ever think for a moment that the bad will last forever.  It is impossible.  The beauty of life is two sides of the same coin.  Our best moments are fleeting, making them all the more special, poignant.  Our most difficult moments are fleeting, making them part of our past, leaving road signs of instructions to guide us to do something differently in the future so that we don’t have to travel down that exact same road again.

Society – The people we love the most in the world, unfortunately, may not be the ones who will make us and our issues a priority in their lives. If this is the case, instead of throwing a neverending pity party of one that grows into a ragefest of resentment, anger and bitterness, take a deep breath and accept the fact that no matter how much we would like to, we cannot change people or make them understand how much we need or want them in our lives.  What we CAN do is to be on the look out for people, situations, opportunities that introduce us to new people to become part of what I like to call our Love Circle, a strong group of people who “get” you, support you, listen to you, love you and laugh with you.

So there you have it!  The GPS of bringing more Good Juju into your life.  I pray it leads you to the life you imagine for yourself – one of

Peace ☮ Love ♥ Light ☾ and Magic ✰

Cecilia Hanna, The Good Juju Goddess

Image via: http://hourglassthorne.deviantart.com/art/Vintage-Compass-132122118

Huh, Hippocrates Was Right . . .

hippocratesSaturday morning in deep South Texas, birds singing, locusts buzzing and I am excited.  I have discovered an awesome book on nutrition that I believe will not only change, but save, my life.  I don’t mean that in the usual, “Oh-thank-goodness-you-got-here-in-time-you-saved-me” kind of way.  I mean the “If-I-hadn’t-found-this-I-would-be-dead-soon” kind of way.  This may have peeked your interest a tad.  And let’s face it.  No one writes a blog – or any article, novel or short story, for that matter – without the hopes of grabbing the reader’s attention.

My dear sorority sister, Tracey, had recommended the book, “It All Starts with Food” written by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, a husband and wife dynamic duo team.  Their book – now a bestseller – uses easy to understand language peppered with humor and understanding to explain how millions of people have negative bodily reactions on a cellular level by following our American food pyramid.  These negative responses are the first domino to fall in a decreased level of health and well-being.  Unfortunately, these negative consequences are not discovered until there has been a whole train of dominoes down with the result of a stroke, heart attack, diabetes, fibromyalgia, cancer or any other multitude of things that none of us want to happen.

Reading this book I realized how gullible I was and, even more importantly, HOW these companies purposely are creating drinks and food (Dallas and Melissa call it “Franken-food”) with an extended shelf-life by sucking out the nutrients, thus replacing what is much-needed by the entire human race, with chemicals.  We eat what looks and tastes like food, but actually contains very little of the proper fats, carbohydrates and proteins we NEED, with crazy things that are actually alien to our human bodies.  Therefore, our brains never receive the message (the brakes) to stop eating, because our brain doesn’t want us to stop eating until it perceives that we have received the nutrition we need, even though we may have eaten enough calories in a day for three grown men.  Cue the angels to sing the Hallelujah! chorus.  The light bulb over my head glowed neon white.  Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.  This common sense explanation just did it for me.

To someone who thinks, “Sure, this makes sense, but eating meats, fruits, vegetables, seafood and eggs” is expensive.  I say, “Use all the money you spend on packaged, processed foods, on dairy, grains, cereal, bread, cheese, milk, junk food, etc. and instead of that, put your money towards the Whole 30 plan.”  Maybe buying organic is out of your budget, just get as close to chemical/hormone free as you can. “Then, take what you currently spend on healthcare – allergy pills, pain relievers, doctors’ visits, etc. – and put that money, too, towards your Whole 30 budget.”  I bet that “someone” would have a bigger Whole 30 budget than he/she realizes.

Here’s the Hartwigs’ 60 second eating philosophy straight from their website:

Whole9′s Nutrition in 60 Seconds

We eat real food – meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruit, healthy oils, nuts and seeds. We choose foods that were raised, fed and grown naturally, and foods that are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.

This is not a “diet” – we eat as much as we need to maintain strength, energy, activity levels and a healthy body weight. We aim for well-balanced nutrition, so we eat animals and a significant amount of plants.

Eating like this has helped us to look, feel, live and perform our best, and reduces our risk for a variety of lifestyle-related diseases and conditions.

While this eating lifestyle may seem extreme, Dallas and Melissa do an INCREDIBLE job of motivating someone to give it a try and see how his/her body responds.  After the thirty days they then instruct you on how to add back one food group at a time and see how your body responds.  Their website has a section just for testimonials and I highly suggest reading some of them if you’re still on the fence about whether or not to read the book.  It is now a bestseller so I’m betting your local library may have a copy, and if you have to be put on the waiting list, the website can give you lots of great information in the mean time.

You may ask, “What in the world would possess someone to give up bread, Diet Coke, cake, beans, etc.?”  Heck, I probably would be asking the same question, except for one reason.  I’m sick.  Fifteen months, two primary care physicians and four specialists later, no one is exactly sure what I have.  Fortunately, my September 5th appt with a well-known autoimmune specialist in Houston, Dr. Patricia Salvato, has been pushed up due to a cancellation and I get to see Dr. S. THIS MONDAY, July 29th, instead of having to wait over a month.  I don’t believe I’ve ever been so stoked to be seen by a doctor in my life!

It was because of this illness that I was willing to give up my beloved Diet Coke (DC).  You have to understand when Lent rolled around I gave up CHOCOLATE before I would give up my DC.  After reading an interesting article on aspartame poisoning I thought if giving up DC could relieve the chronic pain I’d been having it would be worth it.  To make a long story short, I gave up DC for over thirty days and to be honest, I didn’t feel much improvement.  Can you guess what happened?  Yep, just the thought of having one DC from my favorite drink place (Sonic!) with my beloved sausage biscuit from Whataburger would make my mouth water and I just KNEW it would hit the spot. Plus, I figured, “Hey! ONE DC a month surely couldn’t hurt that much, right?”  So, I confess.  I got that warm little sausage biscuit handed to me by my local Whataburger drive-thru worker and immediately drove the three minutes to my local Sonic to get a 32 oz. DC (with extra Sonic ice, of course).  Oh, my mouth was really salivating now.  Barely out of the Sonic drive-thru I took a bite of that delicious little biscuit with sausage, took a nice long drag on the Sonic straw.  Then, something miraculous happened.  I gagged.

I could not believe how the DC tasted.  It tasted like medicine, and not the tolerable grape kind, either.  It was bitter, gross, nasty.  I immediately threw the whole drink away, went back through the Sonic drive-thru and ordered a 32 oz. sweet tea with extra ice.  Much better. After reading It All Starts with Food, though, I now either drink water, sometimes flavored with slices of lime, lemon or oranges, or I drink unsweetened tea.  If someone had told me a year ago that I would one day no longer want to drink DC I would have loudly proclaimed, “Never!”  Giving up DC was my gateway to a whole new way of looking at my relationship with what I eat and drink.  After reading It All Starts with Food I gave up adding sugar to my tea and started their Whole30 program.

I am convinced this will help me to feel better, look better and be better.  Click the links above and open your mind to a new relationship with food and drink.  It may just save your life, too.  I can hear Hippocrates saying from the great beyond, “I told you so!” :)

Wishing you Peace ☮ Love ♥ Light ☾ and Magic ✰

Cecilia Hanna, The Good Juju Goddess

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning

funeral3I first began writing this blog on June 24th because that was the day I discovered a line from my favorite poem would be my perfect epitaph. I saved it as a draft until I could sit down when I had more time.  As I spent July 2nd in celebration of a dear friend’s life who blessed and inspired me with her grace, glamour and guts, tonight (and the wee hours of July 3rd) seemed especially fitting to finish writing this one and hit the publish button.

First, I’d like to tell you about this rare gem, a true diamond set in platinum, named Patrice.  I first met Patrice nearly seven years ago at a chamber mixer when I first moved to the town I now reside to begin my new career.  I was immediately drawn to her.  I had to know this goddess who was dressed like she’d just stepped out of a fashion magazine.  I still remember what I was wearing that day because  as I approached her Patrice told me that she loved what I was wearing. Hearing this from someone so chic and savvy gave me such a lift.  I, of course, followed by telling her how stunning she was and she replied, “Oh, that’s because we’re kindred spirits.”  Still, Patrice, I could see, was the sparkling diamond; me, the diamond in the rough.

Patrice was a fashion icon in our small town of 18,000 people, but she could have graced any runway in Paris or Milan.  She had style.  She had confidence.  I’ll just say it.  That woman had BALLS.  She had no qualms in approaching people to buy a fundraising ticket or table from her, to ask for donations for charity auctions or to stand up for what – and for whom – she believed in.

Within months of meeting me she approached me at a meeting and stated, “I’m coming by.  Tommy (her husband) and I are opening accounts with you.”  She believed in supporting local businesses and women in business, in particular.  She would come by my office and tell me which local woman had opened a new business and what goods/services I might need from her.  She was a networking magician and worked her magic more times than I can count pointing people my way to come and work with me.

Patrice was a woman of substance, depth and grit.  I’ve been in large group meetings and watched in admiration as she stood up and went against the grain to put in her two cents about why she disagreed with the majority.  She was a goddess with a gossamer gown made of warmth, bravery, sensuality and compassion.

Patrice was a warrior woman who battled cancer for two decades.  For some, the discovery of a serious, potentially life threatening illness causes despair and depression.  For others, it may be a wake up call to enjoy every moment and live fully.  Tonight I discovered that Patrice seemed to take the news of her cancer and the treatment needed as another opportunity to rally her friends and family around her and to continue celebrating their time together.  Perhaps it was this attitude of hers and her family that enabled her to go on to live her remaining twenty years with such fierce passion and love of Life.

In addition to the usual day-before viewing at the funeral home and the church service and burial that followed, Patrice’s family and friends also joined together later yesterday evening to enjoy a Celebration of Life party at our local community center.  Here, on display, were Patrice’s many awards from her charitable fundraising and committee leadership roles, photographs with family and friends, a running slide show of more photographs, a DJ – a long time friend of Patrice’s – who donated his time to provide the dance music and a lovely artist, Rachel Payne, who brought supplies for those in attendance to create a page for a family scrapbook keepsake of our thoughts and memories of how Patrice had touched our lives.  This creative component, I learned while working on my piece of art, was actually Patrice’s idea.

Family and friends brought enough food and desserts to feed an army. I arrived at 5pm and the dance music was still going strong when I left three hours later.  Music was a natural way to honor Patrice.  Originally from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, she loved sashaying her hips to music – Calypso, the Congo, disco, basically nearly anything with a good beat, I think.  She absolutely could be the life of the party if she chose to do so and had no problem being the first one out there to warm up the dance floor – partner or no partner.

I was struck to find, after Patrice’s Catholic funeral mass, that her prayer cards were imprinted on the back with, “When I Die,” a poem by Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic.  I found it to be profoundly fitting because, in addition to all the other adjectives I’ve used to describe this remarkable phenom, she was also open-minded and loved unconditionally no matter one’s race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, etc.  Her heart seemed to be on one speed: full out LOVE. Period.

Many people throughout today’s events honoring Patrice mentioned how now we must learn to communicate and feel her presence in new ways which reminded me of the original subject of this blog, my favorite poem, “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning,” by the 17th century English poet, John Donne (the last three lines, my chosen epitaph):

“… We, by a love so much refined,

That our selves know not what it is,

Inter-assured of the mind,

Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.

Our two souls, therefore, which are one,

Though I must go, endure not yet

A breach, but an expansion,

Like gold to aery thinness beat.”

Wishing you Peace ☮ Love ♥ Light ☾ and Magic ✰

Cecilia Hanna, The Good Juju Goddess

The Sunny Side of Life

hello summer

My friends, it has been way too long since I have shared with you and, despite how it may appear, I have missed this time together.  Some of you may recall that I have been ill for quite sometime and for the greater part of last year a series of doctors could not determine what I had.  Test after test; lab after lab; specialist after specialist, no one could give me an answer.  After entering my symptoms in an internet search I suggested an answer to my primary care physician which caused her to run other tests.  One item checked was my rheumatoid factor which normally should be between zero and twenty for everyone. Mine was 280.8.  Shortly after that, I was finally diagnosed by a rheumatologist with fibromyalgia.

While relief did come when I finally had medical evidence that I wasn’t just losing my marbles, the illness itself has, for me, been like trying to wrestle with a greased pig.  Just when I think I have a handle on its symptoms, the symptoms change – new location of pain and added symptoms while other parts of the dis-ease seem to fade, whether with medication or just its nature, I’m not sure.

Consequently, my time has been spent resting, attending physical therapy for 2+ hours three times a week, multiple doctor visits, lab tests, plus still trying to go into the office, see my own clients and remind my assistant what I look like.  I will confess that I journeyed into a dark place which led to an increased sense of acute anxiety.  I know intellectually I’ve not robbed any banks lately, but my heart rate occasionally makes me think there will be an armed officer at my door any moment to drag me away to throw me in the clink.  Again, whether this is a side effect of the pain medications or just another symptom of the fibro rearing its ugly head, it’s hard to say.

This, as you can imagine, left me wondering how to go about getting my Good Juju back.  I think one of the most difficult things in life is to admit when we cannot do it all on our own.  This Good Juju Goddess needed a sidekick.  Therefore, I chose a life coach/licensed therapist/hypnotist to be the Super Girl to my Wonder Woman.    I knew just from her website that she would be someone with whom I would enjoy visiting and working to improve all aspects of my well-being.  After just two meetings with her, and a renewed dedication to my practices of gratitude and meditation, I already feel more motivated to move beyond this obstacle of illness and learn to get past it.

Today, despite the pain and fatigue I talked myself into getting out of bed, getting dressed and attending a short out-of-town business meeting with colleagues.  It felt great to be out of the house, learning, visiting and getting my mind off what’s wrong in my life and focus on something different for a change.  Paradoxically, often what we need to do the most is exactly what we want to do the least.  I’m not sure why that is, but before coming home from my business meeting I ran into a bookstore and bought a couple of  items to aid in my healing.  The first gave me a glimpse into a possible answer to the aforementioned mystery.

At the suggestion of my life coach, I began listening to Marianne Williamson’s audio book, “A Course in Weight Loss,” – an excellent book that applies to Life in general.  Williamson states, “The power of love is perfect, creative, self-organizing, healthy, self-healing and abundant.” Conversely, “the power of fear is insane, destructive, violent, disease-producing and lacking.”  Her audio book is read by her and she shocked me when she then stated, “Both forces are active in your life.  Love wishes you well.  Fear wishes you dead.”  Wow!  Talk about a kick in the caboose!

It went right along with another book I read today, The Bounce Back Book, by my friend, Karen Salmansohn, who reminds us in her introduction that we have a choice.  Be weak or be strong.  What follows are 75 nuggets of wisdom to pull it together when we feel pulled apart. Again,  I felt myself metaphorically, spiritually leap forward with that additional boost to the backside.  As I soaked in these words of wisdom I imagined them like sunshine warming me through and through, healing me, nourishing me.

I then thought how interesting it is that today, the first day of summer, the Summer Solstice, is the day that I start to really feel like I am walking on the sunny side of Life again, the first time in a long while.  I know that thunder showers and storm clouds will always be a part of Life, but even during these times I can remind myself to go into my mind’s eye and visualize the summer sun giving me that sparkling, glow of Love and all that comes with it.

Wishing you Peace ☮ Love ♥ Light ☾ and Magic ✰

Cecilia Hanna, The Good Juju Goddess

 

Reclaiming Valentine’s Day

Artwork Title: Love Magic
Artist: German Unknown Master

Hello, everyone!!  Okay, so I basically have slept through the second half of December (when not engrossed in my feverish preparations for the Christmas holidays) and all of January.  I know I’ve left you alone without any Good Juju to read for far too long.  For this, I offer my sincerest apology sprinkled with sugar (the really nice turbinado kind I like so well) with a juicy red cherry on top!  It boils down to this.  Aside from literally sleeping a great deal, I’ve been coping and adjusting to being recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia which took more years and medical specialists than I would have liked, but the bright side is that a true and proper diagnosis has been made.  I am being medically treated accordingly by a wonderful rheumatologist and starting today will begin intermittent medical leave from my office job which basically means a reduction of hours with Dr. Adriana P-M’s authorization that I may work as many as 20 per week. The projected time frame for returning to work full time is in one year, but that, of course, can be shortened or lengthened depending on my progress and number of flares experienced.

That aside, what I really wanted to write about is my love of Valentine’s Day.  I know, I know.  I have single friends, too, and at least one of whom who has already talked about the dreaded “Singles Awareness Day” when out went the Christmas decorations and in came the Valentine’s Day merchandise, quick as you can say, “Kiss me.”  What I have to say in response to her, in the most loving and kind way possible, of course, is a quote from one of my FAVORITE movie love stories, Moonstruck, said by Loretta Castorini, played beautifully by Cher, “Snap out of it!”  Before any Jujubees begin to tell me I just don’t know what it’s like to be single during this holiday I smilingly say to you that I have been single for nearly every Valentine’s Day of my entire 47 years (granted ages newborn to oh, at least age 12, probably don’t technically “count” as being single).  And, point in fact, I am single now.  Yep, not even nary a boyfriend or beau to be seen on the horizon, unless it’s the very, very distant horizon.  I would LOVE to be very happily enthralled in a romance right now, but that just isn’t the case at the moment.  I can tell you this.  Happy the man who can sweep me off my feet.  I am one heck of a catch! ;)

So, back to my singles versus V-Day issue . . . Why, do I still feel jubilation regarding the month of LOVE when I’m not wrapped in the arms of a beloved?  Well, first of all, it’s LOVE, we’re talking about here, not marriage, significant other, nor best guy or girl day.  L.O.V.E. This is a celebration of love in ALL its forms and gives us one day in the world (no offense to poor Saint Dwynwen) to celebrate that most vital of all emotions.  Not one of us can survive without some sort of love in his or her life.  Think about it.  Even poor Chuck Noland (played by Tom Hanks) in Cast Away had to have it which is why he created his beloved, Wilson.  Didn’t you feel his angst when Wilson . . . no, I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen the movie yet. :)

Anyway, if you are not someone like me (whose favorite shape is the heart, who loves the colors and beautiful merchandising/gifts that are created especially for this holiday, who STILL enjoys sending Valentine’s cards), stop and make a list of ALL the people you love.  By the way, this list exercise isn’t confined to only the singles out there.  For those of you lucky enough to have been blessed with cupid’s bow, please stop for a moment and recognize that you have more than just ONE person to show love and gratitude towards this holiday.  Before you got “tunnel vision” and could only see your amor du jour I’m betting you had some single friends, some of whom may still be single and, hopefully, still someone you cherish.  Recognizing them as well as your romantic flame on Valentine’s Day would go along way towards helping those who are single and dreading the numbers 2/14/13 to feel less lonely and enable them to fully embrace the true LOVE of the holiday when it’s not monopolized by the romantics and shared among many. In fact, why not throw a Valentine’s Day bash where you AND your beloved invite all the single people you know? Wouldn’t THAT be fun? But, I digress …

The list.  Who should be on it: special friends and family members who truly “get” you and support you, people you see on a regular basis throughout the year that put a smile on your face  - your postal worker, financial advisor, teacher, hair dresser, manicurist, coffee barista, bartender, dentist, medical staff, pastor/priest, neighbor, office assistant, employer/manager/coworker, yoga teacher, bartender, pet sitter, masseuse, mechanic, etc.  Come on! I KNOW you’ve “got people.”  We ALL do.  It takes a village, right? We each have our own special TEAM of people who are with us bringing joy to our day and helping to make our lives run more smoothly and efficiently.  Think your life ISN’T that jolly or running smoothly and efficiently right now? Guess what?  How much more difficult, daunting and/or dreary would your life be WITHOUT these people in your life to provide their smiles, their services, their knowledge and skill?  What would your life be like if the people on your list – those you look forward to helping you, supporting you – were suddenly gone tomorrow?

Uh huh.  That’s what I thought.  You DO have people – and notice, I didn’t even get started on the Grandma Pearls or the Aunt Cicis in the world! :)  So now, maybe, we all might just be that much closer to being on the same page and actually looking forward to telling “our people” how much we do LOVE having them in our lives and can face the day with a big SMILE on our face and dare I say, perhaps a bit more eagerness and appreciation for the holiday, in general?  If that’s the case, then by all means, get that list ready and start making plans to make this Valentine’s Day (oh, heck, why not this YEAR) the biggest lovefest you’ve ever had in your life!

Wow, now I’m even MORE excited about this celebration!  I best hurry and write out MY list – the best postal worker in the world, T.C.; my GREAT regional leader, Jim; my awesome neighbors Abel & Melinda/Jennifer, Wes and Jacob; my administrative goddess, Becky; my bewitching temp, Connie . . . Oh, boy.  I have LOTS to do.  I’ve got to wrap this article up because after making my list the real work begins.  I have to start planning HOW I’m going to show my gratitude to them.  I can already feel my recipe/craft books, DIY websites and cupboards of ingredients calling my name!  Ta-ta for now!

You've been kissed! Now share the love!! xoxo

You’ve been kissed! Now share the love!! xoxo

Wishing you Peace ☮ Love ♥ Light ☾ and Magic ✰

Cecilia Hanna, The Good Juju Goddess

No More Tears in Heaven

Sung by Eric Clapton

Sung by Eric Clapton

I have not posted anything new today, but I know Good Juju is needed every day.  The tragic news I learned about through the media yesterday reminds me of this.

I know we do not live in a perfect world and sometimes events happen that forever change us, cause us pain and question our faith in humanity.  My heart goes out to all those who have been personally affected by yesterday’s tragedies, especially to those who lost a precious loved one.  However, I know that sorrows and heartache happen all over the world, all the time, every day, most of which never makes the news.

Therefore, know that my heart goes out to any of you, wherever you are, who are going through difficult times this day, doing your best to overcome past tragedies or any sort of distress that plagues you – regrets, missed opportunities, grief, depression.  I am like you.  I don’t live in a perfect bubble of peace and tranquility.  Life happens.  I, too, have lost loved ones, had my heart broken more times than I care to admit and have the usual stresses of work, health, family, home and trying to balance it all.

Despite everything, though, I believe that all will be well in the end because in the end we will be at peace, in Heaven, where there are no more tears, no more worries, anxiety or doubts.  That doesn’t mean I want to get to Heaven any sooner than I am supposed to go, mind you. ;)  It does mean, though, that while I am here I want to enjoy Life and all its wonder and even when I get knocked to my knees I will scrabble to hold onto my tether, my lifeline which is believing that there is something to learn from everything, something that I can glean to help me grow in character and strength, something I can take away to help me help others who experience the same trials and tribulations.  This belief is from which Good Juju was born.

My posts are about uplifting our Spirit, keeping the Faith, having a giggle and sharing little ideas to make life more fun – recipes, projects, decor ideas, etc.  I do this as much for myself as I do it for you.  I know there are days that you may not be in the mood for what I offer, but I want you to know that whatever I offer I do so with all the Love in my heart and with what resonates with me at that moment in time.  Life can be hard, but that is why it is so important for us to have a place that we can turn to when we need to be uplifted, a place to remind us that we are not alone.  I want Good Juju Land to be one of those places for you and for me and as always I am

Wishing you Peace ☮ Love ♥ Light ☾ and Magic ✰

Cecilia Hanna, The Good Juju Goddess

Learning to Love The Life That Is

Artist: Molly Hahn

Sometimes the real obstacle between us and our own happiness is letting go of “what if” and allowing ourselves to accept our life as is and to see all the beautiful possibilities that surround us every day to add love, peace and joy to our lives right now as is, in the present day.  It took me a long time to grieve for my past  - all the time I wasted on dead-end relationships, the opportunities I missed or chose to ignore.

Finally, somehow through what I can only attribute as Grace I’ve been able to accept my life as is and see that it is beautiful and full of love and happiness even though it’s not  the way I imagined it.  For many years I felt a failure for not being married, not having children.  I still would love to know that kind of love, between mother and child, between husband and wife.  As Olympia Dukakis’ character in Moonstruck says, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”  Hahaha – that line still makes me laugh and, being the hopeFUL romantic that I am I will never give up on finding a soul mate who wants to know that kind of love, too.

If you, too, might be struggling with grieving for the life you imagined instead of the one you currently have, I leave you with this quote from Joseph Campbell, “We must let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”  I believe happiness is yours if you can learn to drop what you’ve been carrying – past mistakes, regrets, injustices – and open your arms wide to receive the bounty of blessings that are just waiting for you to open your heart and mind to see them, welcome them, embrace them and celebrate them.

Wishing you Peace ☮ Love ♥ Light ☾ and Magic ✰

Cecilia Hanna, The Good Juju Goddess

 

Grateful for Sunny Saturdays

Ah, Saturdays.  I love Saturdays and here in South Texas it is an especially beautiful one today.  I have the doors open; it’s a sunny 61 degrees F and winds are mild.  College football plays on the television as my brother and nephew lounge comfortably after eating a breakfast that I made for them this morning.

I fried sausage, bacon and eggs over easy (I know – not the healthiest of breakfast items – no judgements, please ;), baked some chocolate chip muffins from a store bought mix and whipped up some blueberry pancakes from a boxed mix by Krusteaz, folding in about a cup of frozen blueberries for added nutrients and deliciousness.

With the remaining blueberries I decided to make a blueberry sauce for the pancakes.  I made this sauce last Easter when I found the recipe for Blueberry Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole on Just A Pinch which includes the sauce recipe.

If you like blueberries or are looking for an easy, but beautiful breakfast item that you can prepare the night before I highly recommend this dish.  Everyone loved it and I know I’ll definitely be making it again.  The blueberry sauce is quick and easy.  My nephew, William, said he didn’t even go for the regular syrup for his pancakes; he preferred the blueberry sauce.

I also made some broiled grapefruit which is what I ate this morning.  I have had people tell me that they don’t even like grapefruit, but they love this version of it.  All you do is cut your grapefruits half and along the edges and each fruit segment.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and broil for 5-10 minutes.  To make your own cinnamon sugar combine 1/4 c sugar (I like to use Florida Crystals natural sugar which is more coarse than regular sugar) and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.  That much cinnamon sugar will be enough for broiling four grapefruits.  I’d recommend lining a baking sheet with foil because the fruit will bubble and swell, causing the juices to overflow.  Before popping under the broiler you can also melt a tablespoon or two of butter, if desired, and drizzle over the fruit.

With our tum-tums full and our bodies nourished, we’re each ready to go about our day to enjoy this beautiful weekend.  I hope each of you, wherever you are, will enjoy yours as well.

Wishing you Peace ☮ Love ♥ Light ☾ and Magic ✰

Cecilia Hanna, The Good Juju Goddess

Love Mounds and Life

Love Mounds and Place Settings

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog our family Thanksgiving celebration was set for 6pm this evening at my mother’s home, Casa Rosa – a name I gave it over a decade ago when she bought it because my Mom’s name is Rosalia (pronounced ROSE-uh-luh).  My family and I enjoyed our time together and had a fantastic meal complete with turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, plus almost everything I blogged about yesterday.  In fact, we had so much food that I think we have enough leftovers to probably have at least two more Thanksgiving feasts, maybe even three.

Notice that I did say “almost” everything I blogged about yesterday which leads me to admit that I have a confession to make.  Despite beginning another day of cooking at 9 this morning I had to put the brakes on cooking at 5pm to shower and dress for our gathering. Hence, I did not have time to make the Pilgrim hats.  Sad, I know, but I did make the turkey place settings so I don’t feel so bad.  I do feel bad that I didn’t get to make the Spinach Madeleine because it’s one of my personal favorites.  The good news is that not only do I have all the ingredients to make this delicious dish (one which my good friend Mama Toni from New Orleans introduced me to the year I visited her during the holidays), BUT I did make another dish that I did not mention in the previous blog.

I had shelved a treat midway until I could get to it another time and since it was taking up valuable real estate in the fridge I decided it was either time to dump it in the trash or finish making it.  Well, waste not, want not, right?  So I decided to make them and add them to our bevy of desserts for our Thanksgiving meal.

Let me just say that in hindsight I realize I went about doing these the hard way.  They were so hard for me to make, in fact, that in the midst of making them I came up with the name “Love Mounds” because I kept thinking a person either had to 1) REALLY love the people they gave these to, 2) love and take immense pleasure in making them or 3) just plain love to eat them.  By the way, they taste like a Mounds bar – my nephew, William, says they taste BETTER than a Mounds bar, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

I realize now that I could have done these a MUCH easier way and next time I’m guessing these Love Mounds will take me half the time. Here’s the secret.  Once the mixture has hardened enough to easily make a small ball in your hand you’re ready to begin.  On a large square of wax paper, preferably placed on top of a large cookie sheet with rolled edges or a jelly roll pan, roll out the mixture in balls.  I suggest making them a little smaller than a ping pong ball.  You can either top the mixture with an almond now or wait until you’ve spooned melted chocolate over the mixture and top it then.  Of course, you can forget the almond all together or place something else on it instead. Hey!  They’re your Love Mounds so do whatever floats your boat.

Once you have the wax paper filled begin spooning the melted chocolate over the balls.  Of course the bottom of the ball will not be covered.  If you really want to cover it wait until the chocolate has hardened and then dip their bottoms in chocolate (tee hee – that sounds naughty, doesn’t it?)

Ahem – back to the Love Mounds.  After you’ve spooned the chocolate, leave them to set and voila! You’re done.  I will spare you the details of how I made them, but I chalk it up to experience.  Besides, if I hadn’t had such a tricky time making these I might not have come up with the name, “Love Mounds.”  Isn’t that just the way life goes?  Sometimes we just don’t see the reasoning behind our difficulties and challenges until later.

For example, during the recession many companies downsized and laid off employees, a terrible thing to happen to someone.  For many of these people it has been a devastation that they are still reeling from.  For many other people, however, they have re-evaluated their lives, concentrated on what was really important, found time to pursue new passions and/or develop new career paths – things that they may never have done if it weren’t for the “negative” situation of being laid off or terminated from their previous jobs.  It goes back to the age-old question, “Do you see obstacles or opportunities?”

I have to tell you in the midst of making these Love Mounds I could only see the obstacles.  It was only with hindsight that I realized the obstacles were the very thing that allowed me to come up with what seems to me now to be the perfect name for them.  So I guess the moral of the story is that when we are not thrilled with our circumstances in life we just have to have faith and trust that these challenges are leading us, guiding us to wherever we are supposed to be.  I guess another lesson would be to stay open-minded and look for whatever Life is trying to teach us because it could happen anywhere, even in the kitchen while making dessert.

Wishing you Peace ☮ Love ♥ Light ☾ and Magic ✰

Cecilia Hanna, The Good Juju Goddess