James’ SLO Life…Ramadan Mubarek

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As mentioned last week, this week starts the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. This may not mean anything to many of you reading this, but to 23% of the world, this is a very important time.  Starting on Tuesday or Wednesday (depending on sect), Muslim around the world will be fasting from Fajr (morning prayer) until Mahgrib (sunset prayer) every day for a month. This means no food, water, tobacco, sex, or hostilities during the daytime hours. All other vices should also be given up during this month to maintain a pure mind and body. This fast represents the month that the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) spent in the desert alone and was sent down the Holy Quran to bestow upon the world. The personal aspects of this time is to be grateful for what you have while gaining empathy for those who don’t have all you have, while learning to work through your hunger and thirst and short temper to gain a much greater sense of spirituality.

This is not easy by any means, especially in the USA. In the muslim world, society revolves around the fasting hours and businesses shift hours to accommodate muslims. Here, no adjusting business hours and no special treatment is given to make it easier. Cart runs in 110 degree heat make for a challenging day of fasting not to mention starving and ringing people up for groceries while smelling demo food from the back of Trader Joe’s. Not to mention that I think I’ve met 2 other people in 5 years in North County that are also Muslim. But every night when it is time to break fast, it’s a wonderful experience of flavors and euphoric feelings while your starved body practically tingles as the first nutrition it has received in 15 hours makes its way into the mouth and down to the stomach. You think this would help with dieting and/or losing weight. Because we stay up all night eating, and then go to bed, we tend to gain weight during Ramadan even though we are eating half the calories as during the rest of the year.

So as the first day creeps in, I must focus my intentions for this month so that I may be a great dad, a great husband, a great employee, and a great person despite my frustrations and short temper because of my hunger. I know the sense of accomplishment and spiritual growth will feel great in a month… but as of right now, all I can feel is hunger pains and i just want to sleep. Ramadan Mubarek to all my friends, Muslim or not.

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My Birthday

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Growing up I always liked to have wild and crazy birthdays. As I got older, the partying lasted longer and celebrations could be daily for a month. This birthday, I had the same expectations. Boy was I surprised when I enjoyed a relaxing day that stretched into the weekend.

My husband had emergency surgery a couple of weeks ago so I knew this birthday would be super low-key. We had every intention of celebrating at a later date to make up for it. Luckily, we have nothing to make up for! My birthday was last Friday and we started the celebration on Thursday with lunch at a place we’ve been wanting to try, a stop at a beach I’ve been longing to comb, a stay in the woods, and family time the next day. Everything was done at a snail’s pace, not my usual style at all, and I was more than satisfied to go at that speed.

The last 4 days were such a blessing and revelation. As I get older, it’s obvious that my mind wants to slow down and decompress and I am more than happy to give in. I never thought that I would be someone to enjoy the slower things in life as much as I do. I now realize that one of the reasons God brought me to this new home is to slow me down to reevaluate. Leaving our go-go-go life gets easier every day and prayer helps with that.

25-year-old me wouldn’t believe what she’s hearing and 45-year-old me is saying, “Duh!”.  I am embracing the SLO life more and more. I only wish everyone the same blessing.

As you get older, what are you learning that contradicts how you saw yourself at this age?

{More about where we went in future posts}

Sharing a Special Day

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I grew up knowing my faith as everyone in my family were devout Catholics. Knowing my faith and living my faith are, obviously, two different things. Thinking about my upcoming birthday, I decided to look up what day I share with special people and events in my faith. How happy I was to find the miracle of Our Lady of Good Counsel happened the day before my birthday, albeit 546 years ago today, and is celebrated on my birthday (tomorrow). The story of the Madonna’s miracle is amazing and can be found here and here.

My excitement is in the fact that it was through Mary’s guidance I found my way back to my faith. Sharing a special day with her makes my birthday even more significant to me. I’ll share my story in future posts, promise. This is yet another sign to keep strong in my faith and believe. I can’t wait to celebrate tomorrow!

Movin’ on North

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Moving to the Central Coast was a bittersweet decision for my husband and I. We loved our home in Los Angeles but wanted to help care for our elderly grandfather and spend as much time with him as we could…he lives in SLO. Family means everything to us and the decision just made sense. So, we packed up our place and moved on North.

My emotions ran the gamut the months, weeks, and days leading up to our move. I’m a Los Angeles native who only lived in San Francisco when not living in Los Angeles and I adore everything about the place. You really can’t beat the culture, restaurants, beaches, mountains, and everything else that made it HOME. I was excited for a new adventure but saddened by what would be left behind, especially friends that are our family. There were a lot of tears, heart-wrenching anxiety, joy, and optimism. As we passed LAX, all I felt was unsure. All of a sudden I couldn’t imagine life outside of the county lines and I cried.

I decided to pray. When I’m lost, I pray. My heart calmed and my head became silent. God lowered the sun and affirmed our decision with an incredible sunset that lasted long for a Winter’s evening. I was humbled by the sight and it lasted the majority of the drive. My head and heart finally came to an agreement, this is where we’re meant to be. At least, for now!

These pictures don’t do the sunset ANY justice.