A visit to Parker Creek Ranch, D’Hanis, Texas

A visit to Parker Creek Ranch, D’Hanis, Texas

Do you know where your food comes from?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I’m an omnivorous city-girl and, until recently, had never really given much thought to how my steak or chicken came to be on my plate.

But these past few years, maybe because of environmental (soil, air, animal, etc.) and food source issues and their impact on healthy living and the environment, I’ve been thinking alot about where my food comes from.

Turkey on my mind

In early November when I started thinking about Thanksgiving and preparing turkey dinner I decided to look into getting a free-range turkey. I had no idea if I could get one in my area.

So I did a search for “free range turkey san antonio” and Parker Creek Ranch came up. They’re in D’Hanis, TX, just a short drive from San Antonio, and they deliver to the San Antonio area. Great!

I could’ve ordered a bird right then, but I hesitated. My skepticism got the better of me.

How could I be sure their turkeys really were “free range” and were processed humanely?

The only way is to go see for myself and, lucky me, they were offering a tour right before Thanksgiving. I signed us (Mark and me) up.

We found the ranch owners and operators, Travis and Mandy, to be smart, kind, caring, and passionate about their work. They’re both graduates of Texas A&M and are educators at heart.

On their website, they describe themselves and their goals:

As stewards of the land, our goal is to produce nutritious products for our community while designing and managing systems that will benefit the environment and future generations. 

Travis and Mandy show us their cows.

There’s a ton more about them and their work on the website, but this statement sums it up well and we saw their goals in action while touring the ranch.

We saw where the chickens, chicks, cows live and where they process their own chickens. We learned about soil, water, and the resilience of the land. And! We went on a hayride.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a turkey. They were all sold out. But now I know and next year I’ll order early.

Parker Creek Ranch Chickens

Tours

Travis and Mandy offer ranch tours a few times a year and you can stay posted on all their info by signing up for their newsletter for “news, information, products, and more.” (Click here to get to it.)

You can check out their website for a list of some restaurants where you can find Parker Creek products. They aso set up at the Farmer’s Market at The Pearl, but check out their website or sign up for updates in case this information has changed.

And if you can make it out to the ranch, the tour is fun and educational. I highly recommend it.

I feel grateful for Travis and Mandy’s hard work and committment to their goals, as well as their willingness to share what they’re learning about sustainability and conservation, not just with the general public, but with other local farmers.

As Martha Stewart used to say, “It’s a good thing.”

photo by ruby montalvo published on rubymontalvo.com

It’s important to be good to others, but don’t forget to be good to yourself too

Be good to yourself. It’s a simple concept. It means treat yourself with love, consideration, and kindness. Be understanding and forgiving towards yourself.

The concept is simple, but not always easy.

What does it mean?

“Good people” are kind, supportive, considerate, and generous. They help us feel positive about ourselves and about life.

They’re like a warm blanket on a cold night or a bowl of chicken soup to ease a scratchy throat. 

But sometimes it feels more natural to be good to a stranger than to ourselves.

We tend to beat ourselves up, focus on our weaknesses, and criticize ourselves when we’re less than perfect. 

How can we lift ourselves up instead of putting ourselves down?

Be kind. Especially through difficult times, small acts of kindness go a long way. Take a few minutes out of a busy day to meditate, listen to uplifting music, or go for a walk.

Smile. Let your smile be your signature look. It can change your disposition and open your heart to self-love.

Be grateful. There’s an old saying that goes, “I cried that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” It doesn’t change your situation, but it may help you see it in a more positive light.

Forgive. Forgiveness is a powerful gift. It can take time to “get over” mistakes and imperfections, but it starts with a choice to forgive yourself.

Every day is a chance to be better than you were yesterday, to do better than you did yesterday. Make it a point to treat yourself with love, kindness, and compassion. Be good to yourself the same way you strive to be good to those you love.

Let negativity roll off your back

Let negativity roll off your back

Negative and insensitive comments that can be hurtful and leave you doubting yourself and feeling stupid.

Little jabs like:

“Are you wearing that?”Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!”

“You can’t/won’t be able to do ________ .”

“Can you try to pay attention, for once?”

Off-handed remarks can float around in our heads for a long time. We analyze them to death and think, “What’s that supposed to mean?” If you’re already self-conscious or lacking confidence, negative comments can have an even bigger impact. 

Positive vs. Negative

Negativity stings. Psychologists say it takes at least 10 positive comments to cancel out 1 negative comment.

Downloaded from Pixabay published on strong-woman.com

How can we get past it and not let it shake our self-confidence?

Is the negative comment worth my time and consideration?

If not, consider the matter closed. Visualize yourself walking away from it. Don’t let it get to you. If it starts to re-surface, remind yourself that you’ve put it behind you.

Understand that often people are negative because it’s easier to knock things down than build them up.

Don’t worry about it. Let negativity roll off your back like water off a duck.

Blow it off like bubbles in the wind.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com
Words have power.

Do you trust the person who said it?

People speak without thinking. Feelings get hurt.

Consider giving people the benefit of the doubt instead of thinking they intend to shake your confidence.

I’d want that consideration. As much as I try to be encouraging, sometimes I speak before I think and wind up sounding negative or insensitive.

Words have power. We must choose wisely. And this applies to how we speak to ourselves too. Encourage yourself with positivity instead of speaking negativity towards yourself.

Stay focused on your goals. Be patient. Ignore negative comments. Don’t let them shake your confidence. Let them roll off your back like so you can’t remember them even if you tried.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

Choose the Opportunity of Now

My husband introduced me to a website wolframalpha.com “an engine for computing answers and providing knowledge”. The website provides facts – quantifiable facts. It doesn’t provide opinions or recommendations.

Interesting information

Type in Chicago, Illinois and you’ll get Chicago’s population statistics, current weather and time, income statistics, demographics, and more.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Put in today’s date and you’ll get information about observances and holidays, moon phase, sunrise and sunset times, and more.

Type in a specific date and year, like your birthday, and you’ll get the day of the week it was and how many days have passed since that date.

It provides facts. Facts alone aren’t disputable. It’s what you do with the information that can make a difference. For me, the information it provided spurred more questions and judgement.

Facts made personal

For example, I put in my birthday. I was born more than 20 thousands days ago. That’s more than 2800 weeks. That’s really a long time. I had to ask: Have I done enough? It makes me wonder about how many more days will I have and how will I do everything I want to do?Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

It’s easy to get discouraged about the time that’s passed, to feel sad about getting older.

Most of us struggle with that at one point or another.

But I realize it’s better to get excited about right now and living each day being as happy and productive as I can. Not so much to live each day as if it were my last, but to not waste it regretting the past. It’s much better to be motivated about the opportunity of now.

Almost exactly a year ago, that’s 365 days, I quit my job as a school librarian and decided I wanted to do something different, that what I really want to do is write. I finished my 1st draft of my 1st novel on March 15 of this year. As of this blogpost, that’s just over 80 days ago.

I’m on the 3rd draft of revisions.

Here are some of the questions I ask myself:

Isn’t it a little late to start a new career? Maybe.

What could I have done if I’d started when I was in my 20’s. A lot more than starting in my 50’s.

Would I be a better writer now? Almost certainly.photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

And yet, I know it’s pointless to re-visit past career choices and wonder if I’ve made good use of my 20 thousand days.

The more important question is “What now?” Better to move forward grateful for every day and the opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted to do.

It’s not just about living in the present. It’s also about looking forward to the future.

We all know our time is limited. That reality can be either depressing or motivating. Each of us has to decide for ourselves which it will be.

Choose to be motivated by the opportunity of now.

Strive for progress, not perfection

journal posted on strong-woman.comIs it really okay to be less than perfect when you’re working toward a goal? Like when you’re ready to take better care of yourself and improve your confidence and overall happiness. You may commit to eating more nutritious food, exercising more consistently, practicing daily gratitude, journaling, or any number of other healthy activities.

They’re simple, but not easy.

So many distractions, it’s hard to stay committed. Why bother trying?

This is when it’s most important to strive for progress, not perfection. When you feel like giving up, remind yourself that:

You must act. You can’t make progress without taking action. Even if you’re not sure you can reach your goal, do what you can and start small if you have to.  It’s harder to get started when you expect yourself to be perfect.

No one’s perfect. What you don’t want to do is say, “Well, I already blew it today because I was ‘bad’ this morning, so what the heck? I might as well eat this pint of ice cream.” Moderation is the key. Every moment’s a chance to re-commit to make healthy choices. 

Take care of yourself posted on strong-woman.com

Keep moving forward. No one’s perfect. Small changes made consistently add up to results. Even the most disciplined people skip a workout sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up. Get back on track and keep at it.

Be okay with good enough. Aspiring for perfection has a way of keeping us from taking action, of getting started. If your goal is to work out 4 times this week and you only get in 2 workouts because “life got in the way”, it’s okay. 2 workouts is better than 0 workouts. Tomorrow’s another day to get back at it!

Be patient. Progress will come as long as you’re taking steps in the direction of what you desire. Focus on progress and it’ll be easier to keep moving forward.

Laughing baby.

Remember why you started. When you’re striving for progress, the end goal can get buried under disappointing setbacks. Keep your goal in mind and do it for yourself and your own health and happiness. Re-commit and repeat as needed.

Lighten up. Have fun along the way. Don’t be so serious. (Ahem.) When nothing short of perfection is acceptable, it’s hard to have fun.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. Do what you can every day, even if it’s something very small, to improve your health and happiness.

Photo credit Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

5 Ways to Get Past Regret

What would you do differently if you had a do-over?

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.comSomething you said, something you did?

Everyone messes up sometimes. It’s normal to look back with regret.

And that awful, terrible feeling of regret can stick around for a while.

But regret keeps you in the past and youPhoto courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com:

wish you’d have done/said/acted differently.

think/talk about it.

keep thinking/talking about it.

feel remorseful/sad/angry about it.

know you can’t change it, but you can’t get it out of your head, even though you know what’s done is done.

How can you get past it?

Try these 5 tips to get past regret:

1. Remember, you can’t change the past.

It would be great to be like Superman and be able to turn back time. But our reality is that what’s done can’t be un-photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.comdone.

Wishing it were different is a waste of time and energy. Even so, we have to do it sometimes. There’s an old saying, “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” It’s okay to cry a little. It might help you feel a little better about the situation. But crying won’t clean it up. So cry a little if you want, but then decide your next course of action, and move on.

2. Be accountable for your actions.

Whether you ask others for forgiveness, offer restitution, or whatever you decide to do to try to right a wrong, accept responsibility for your actions. It may turn out that it’s not as big an issue as you made it out to be and you worried and feared the worst unnecessarily.

3. Forgive yourself and others.

Forgiveness is liberating. It acknowledges imperfection and helps give us the ability to move on. Ask some one you’ve hurt for forgiveness, without expectation. Forgive yourself and others.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com4. Learn from past mistakes.

Ask yourself: What would you do differently and how would that make it better or worse? You may discover that you made the best choice with the information available at the time. And everyone makes mistakes. Use them as a learning experience so you don’t keep repeating the same mistakes over and over.

5. Live in the present.

When you dwell on the past, it’s impossible to live fully in the present. You can’t trip over what’s behind you. Remember, no do-overs.

We can’t change our past but we can change our future.

Regret keeps us stuck in the past. It pulls us back and keeps us there.

Every minute of every day is an opportunity to be better. If you’re stuck regretting the past, you won’t be ready for the opportunities that lie ahead. Instead, be ready by getting past regret.

Note: Sometimes, regret can be the source of deep and long-lasting pain, such as forgiving an assailant who harmed you or a loved one, or forgiving yourself for unknowingly harming some one, such as in an accident. Seek professional help if you find yourself unable to get past the feeling of regret.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

Mindset Monday – Attitude is everything

Years ago I had a well-paying but unfulfilling job. Every day, every hour of every day was difficult. I felt like I belonged someplace else, doing something other than what I was doing. The daily grind and long hours made me feel I had very little control over my day to day experience.

Stairway photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

I wanted to leave that job. I wanted to quit. Check out. Explore other opportunities. There must be something better for me out there, but where?

The job wore me down. I felt desperate for change.

And then one day I realized I had a choice.

I asked myself Why do I continue when I feel so unhappy?

At the time, my kids were elementary school age. I was a single mother and I felt to my core that my most important job was to be their mother, that God had given me the responsibility to care for them. At that time in my life, that was my purpose.

The job helped provide: food on the table, a comfortable home, vacations, and clothes and shoes for them. It provided stability and continuity for us.

Photo published on strong-woman.com
My kids and me years ago.

The job wasn’t fulfilling or satisfying, but it afforded me what I needed. It was like a safety net when life felt a little shaky. Maybe I could’ve have found something better suited to my strengths, but I had two good reasons for staying.

Coming to this realization helped shift my attitude and the job became so much more bearable. I showed up every day knowing why I was there and it helped. A lot. I still had my struggles, of course, but at the end of the day, I was grateful for the luxury of choice.

Whenever I feel stuck, I remember that experience. What are my choices and why am I doing what I’m doing? What’s the underlying purpose of my actions?

Do you feel stuck sometimes? Is what you’re doing driving you crazy with frustration?

Here’s what I learned:

1. It’s a choice.

You may feel like you don’t have a choice because the choices don’t seem very good. In that case, make the best choice available at that time. And keep moving forward.

Crossroads photo courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

2. Be grateful for every day.

Just a little bit of gratitude spills over into all things. In my case, it calmed me down and helped me be a better mom and a happier person.

3. Take a big-picture view.

Your options may not be great. You may have to make the best choice depending on your long-term goals or immediate necessities. Take a step back and get perspective on the big picture.

The only thing that changed was my attitude.Courtesy of pixabay published on strong-woman.com

These 3 things – knowing I had a choice, being grateful, and taking a big picture view – helped me change my attitude and my outlook even though my circumstances were the same.

Same job, same schedule, same juggling of work, kids, and home – everything.

When I realized I had good reasons for choosing to show up to the job every day, my whole disposition changed. I was happier, more calm and relaxed, more grateful.

Sometimes you have to make the best “bad” (not-ideal) choice. That’s life. That’s the human experience. And you don’t know where your choices will lead or what awaits you on your path.

Choose love and it’s easier to keep a positive attitude. And attitude is everything.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

Don’t Let Self-Doubt Kill Your Dream. Keep At It!

Starting a new venture can be overwhelming. When you set out to do something new, you make yourself vulnerable. You put yourself out there. Your confidence ebbs and flows and you start asking yourself, “Can I really do this?”Photo from Flickr.com the commons project published on strong-woman.com

Maybe it’s something you’ve put off doing for a while because you know it’s going to be tough, like finding a new job, quitting smoking, starting a business, losing weight, training for a sporting event, or learning to play an instrument.

You decide to go for it. You’re committed.

Things move slowly at first. Maybe so slowly it feels like you’re not moving at all. Doubt sets in:  “What was I thinking? Why did I ever commit to this? I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. Is this even worth it? Why am I putting myself through this?”

Shake off the doubt. Remember why you started, why you wanted it. Re-commit.

And then keep at it. Keep moving forward, little by little.

One step at a time

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.comIt takes a while to gain momentum.

There’s so much to learn, so many setbacks, and things rarely go as smoothly as you’d like. Just when you’ve leaped one hurdle you find another one waiting for you.

“Why bother?” your inner voice says. “There’s no way I can do this!”

You’re not alone

Everyone battles doubt, even people who seem to get everything so easily.Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

When you’re attempting to do something different that gets you out of your regular routine and puts you at risk of failure, it’s normal to doubt yourself.

Steven Pressfield calls it “Resistance” in his book The War of Art.

He writes, “Any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long term growth, health, or integrity. Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any of these will elicit Resistance.”

Doubt is Resistance

Resistance is anything that makes you want to quit in the face of challenge. Doubt is resistance. Most resistance falls under the umbrella of fear.

Take care of yourself with a quiet commute published on strong-woman.com

Fear of failure, alienation, change, pain, the unknown.

When it’s tempting to quit, remember why you started. Look at how far you’ve come instead of how far you have to go.

Whatever the challenge, whatever the obstacle, keep at it. Keep moving forward, little by little.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Mindset Monday – Sprinkle Your Day With Gratitude

Gratitude is a simple concept.

It’s that feeling that what you have is good. And that what you have is enough for you to be happy today.

Why be grateful?

Gratitude brings a level of contentment and satisfaction to each day. And sometimes it takes practice.

Start with a sprinkle.Stretching in Autumn photo courtesy of Pixabay published on strong-woman.com

Instead of looking at what’s going wrong, think of what’s going right.

When you’re tempted to focus on what you don’t have, shift your focus to what you do have.

Rather than getting discouraged about what you haven’t accomplished, look at how far you’ve come.

Instead of saying, “I wish I had…”, say “I’m grateful that I have…”

Gratitude opens your heart

Expressing gratitude opens your heart to the goodness life offers, and an open heart makes way for more blessings.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Do you have what you need?

What are the bare necessities of life? Not much. Air, food, shelter.

And yet what do you have beyond that?

Consider the people and things you use, interact with, work for, and would miss like crazy if they weren’t there.

Don’t take anything for granted. Life is precious.

Sprinkle every day with gratitude. Or go ahead and pour it on. You can’t overdo it.

Photo courtesy of National Archives Project on flickr.com published on strong-woman.com

Why Women’s History Month Matters

March is Women’s History Month.

A little background information:

Women’s History Month started off as “Women’s History Week” in 1982.Photo courtesy of National Archives Project on flickr.com published on strong-woman.com

Beginning in 1987, March has been designated “Women’s History Month”, executed by either a Congressional resolution or Presidential proclamation.

According to the National Women’s History Project, since the signing of the Declaration of Independence  until the twentieth-century, women’s rights were restricted in most states in the areas of:

  • owning property
  • rights to earned wages (keeping money earned instead of handing it over to a husband or father)
  • contraception
  • reproductive issues (not just abortion)
  • the right to claim spousal abuse
  • the right to vote
  • equal pay for equal work
  • jury duty
  • the right to pursue a professional career
  • and many more.Photo courtesy of National Archives Project on flickr.com published on strong-woman.com

People, men and women, worked to change the laws to give women the same legal rights rights and protection as men. In 1920, as a result of years of work by suffragists, the Nineteenth Amendment granted women the right to vote in federal elections.

Women’s Rights

It’s worth noting that equal rights are rarely granted without a fight.

Laws are in place protecting women, but they do not guarantee enforcement, such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963. The gender pay gap is real and well-known. Read more about the gender pay gap at Pay Equity and Discrimination at Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR.org).

And changing laws doesn’t change hearts and minds. It can take generations to shift attitudes.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

Just the other day I had the great displeasure of hearing a guy who seemed to be stuck in early 1900s mentality:

I was having lunch in a small neighborhood restaurant and a group of about six men sat at a table next to me. One man in the group loudly expressed his attitude about women’s rights and women’s equality. I’ll paraphrase his words here,

“Women want equal rights and want to be equal to men, but that puts things out of order. It should be God, then men, then women. Women can’t come before men because that’s like putting on your shoes before you put on your socks.”

I thought this man was an ignoramus. Plus, he was loud and obnoxious in my opinion. But I wondered, “Does he have sons? Daughters? Married to a woman? What would it be like to be around this guy all the time?”

I only had to hear him for a few minutes. And truthfully, listened to what he was saying because I was stunned and amazed by his logic.

 

Laws don’t change people.

Women have choices now because of the battles fought by previous generations of women. My grandmother always said, “We had to put up with a lot but you don’t have to.”

It’s not just that equal pay for equal work is fair.

Photo courtesy of unsplash.com published on strong-woman.com

It’s that our grandmothers before us “put up with” injustice, bowed to men, fought for the right to vote, to participate fully in the freedoms granted by the Constitution for all Americans.

We need to know what’s at stake.

The saying goes, “He who fails to learn from history is doomed to repeat it.”

That’s why Women’s History Month is important. Let’s pay attention.

And for a detailed timeline of Women’s Rights, visit National Women’s History Project.

Read more about Women’s History Month at Women’sHistoryMonth.org.