Day#1 – The Vegan Challenge Has Begun

Today is the first day of my 30-Day Vegan Challenge, and I’m excited! After work in a previous “career” in agriculture, I learned a lot about how different foods are produced, and the effects which some of the things which are used to produce foods have on our bodies. For example, many foods are produced with pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and nematocides— natural and articifically-developed chemicals which could impact human reproduction, hormonal balance, and so on.

So, why am I embarking on this challenge?

The answer is multi-faceted, so here goes:

  1. Yes, I want to lose weight! I’ve gained a lot of weight within the past few years after suffering from an illness, and I need the weight to go away!
  2. I want my lean, flexible, and strong physique back— and this time, I’m keeping it!
  3. I feel great when I eat fresh fruits and vegetables, so I’ve decided to give my body more of the healthy foods it’s been craving.
  4. The things I’ve learned about food production have caused me to look at food differently. Therefore, I want to produce and consume foods that are as fresh, clean, and natural as possible.
  5. I want to inspire others to be as healthy as they can be.
  6. I want to feel and look my best.
  7. I want to stop eating meat altogether, and be a lifelong vegan— it just seems healthier than consuming meat.
  8. I’m interested in learning about the variety of fruits and vegetables which I can eat for optimal health (and to satisfy my curiousity about different foods).
  9. Foods from the ground are generally full of vitamins and nutrients, and there’s nothing like being nourished with good whole foods.
  10. I like to try new things and challenges can help us to build character and to grow in our walks of life.

So, what do I expect during my 30-Day Vegan Challenge?

I expect:

  1. To lose weight.
  2. To feel and look healthier.
  3. To decrease my desire to eat unhealthy foods.
  4. To inspire others that they can have their best bodies, and enjoy good overall health.
  5. To give people ideas on how they can make small, and simple, changes which can have big and positive results in their overall health, fitness, and life, in general.
  6. To inspire others to lead healthy lives.
  7. To gain an appreciation for healthy eating and living.
  8. To successfully complete this 30-Day Vegan Challenge— I like good challenges every now, and then.
  9. To be an example of the positive change which I want to see in the people I love, and in the community where I live.
  10. To set the tone for how I want to live the rest of my life— a life full of good and healthy habits which can influence others to do, and be, their very best!

So, what about you?

Do you have a challenge which you want to overcome? And, have you ever embarked on a challenge of this sort? Leave your comments below. Be sure to let me know if you are participating in any kind of health, or fitness challenge, and share the details! We can learn from each other.

 

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A Few Thoughts

The following is a short essay response I wrote as a part of a series of discussions about society’s seemingly increasing dependence upon the Internet. Is it safe? Is it healthy? Have we uncovered a great thing, or is society making a mistake for its ceaseless embrace of technology?

In this response, I’ve briefly shared my thoughts about the issues in about 831 words. Tell me what you think about this topic? Are we too dependent upon the Internet, and other technologies? Share your comments below, and be sure to look at the infographic— you might be surprised at how much information is transmitted via the Internet in one day.

In the “connected” world, it seems that we are increasingly becoming dependent upon the Internet to do basic things which, for many millennia, did not even require electricity. This concept coupled with the ability to complete more tasks faster (with the help of the Internet, of course) is (in my opinion) causing people to develop a greater dependence upon Internet-mediated communications and technologies. Although I have always been a technology enthusiast, and I am always eager to learn how to use the latest technologies, I am also increasingly concerned— especially for the generation following Millennials, because it seems that while they are increasingly being exposed to, and taught how to use, some very sophisticated technologies, I am concerned that when the lights go off, and the convenience of electricity (or, any alternative power source) are not readily available, these persons will (generally) not be able to do basic things like handwrite letters, use a wall telephone,  understand that a “hashtag”, “pound” sign, and “number” sign are all the same thing, in addition to knowing that there is a such thing called a “tablet” which made of paper, and used for writing— and not only the computer device used to play games, watch movies, or to check Instagram. (Today, I had a conversation with 5th grade students about this.)

I am also concerned because I had a childhood which included me playing outside most days of the week. As I reflect on this, playing outside had me interacting with other people face-to-face and helped me to develop social and critical thinking skills. I also got plenty of exercise and even lost my childhood “chubbiness” and became physically stronger and faster. When I wasn’t playing outside, doing homework, or talking with my parents and siblings, I was playing the piano in our family sunroom (or, another one of the musical instruments I learned to create and play as a child). Even when I was studying, it rarely involved the use of a computer unless I was conducting research for a project. When studying, I mostly used books and paper, including dictionaries, thesauri, and almanacs. Although, today, my study tools and study habits have changed, and, now, the project I am completing determines which resources I will use (whether digital and/or print), I’m glad that if the Internet is not available to me, and if the lights go out, I can use paper books to do what I need because Google is only available online.

While I have many concerns about much of humanity’s increasing integration and super-dependence upon the Internet, and other technologies, I do believe that people are increasingly being exposed to information, resources, and other people, whom they would probably never know, or have, if it were not for the integration of the Internet, and other technologies, into society. The fact that citizens can communicate directly with world leaders, and customers can rate and review the products and services they’ve used on a website, are examples of how people and organizations are enabled to better meet the needs of the people they serve. My concern is that there is now an imbalance of technology and the ability to socialize and learn throughout the “connected” world partly because many people don’t seem to know how to properly integrate some new technologies (like social media, for example) into their lives.

For example, some people rely too heavily upon texting instead of using phone calls to discuss important subjects with people (like bosses). I have heard many stories of employees who don’t feel comfortable talking with their employers, and therefore, use the wrong media (like text messaging/SMS) to communicate with their bosses when trying to get clarification for a project, or to handle important transactions. And every day, I read the tweets, posts, and status updates of many teenagers who communicate their ideas through emoticons and acronyms (which are based on the English language) perfectly, but are completely confused when I ask them to write those same messages in the English language using the correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.

I didn’t graduate from high school very long ago. Computers and technology have been a very important of my life. I first started using computers when I was three years old, since then, I have learned countless topics in computers and technology, but equally important, I have learned how to speak, read, write and count— the skills and abilities needed to create the computers and technologies I use. I am concerned that the generation following Millennials (and some Millennials, as a matter of fact) will not be as intelligent as the generations before them because they do not seem to understand the importance of learning by using books, paper, pencils and their mouths communicating and learning. They don’t seem to understand that the human mind learns better when people speak, read and write as a part of the human learning and communication process better than they do (in general) when looking at a digital screen.

So, I’m Thankful

Thankfulness?

I’ve devoted a lot of time to the new direction of TheTDarrisBlog, and I’ve decided that I should start back with one thing that I think about each day: thankfulness. You might wonder, “Why thankfulness?” Well, it seems that a thankful heart is generally a happy heart, or at least a content one. A thankful attitude seems to make complaining uncomfortable, and it seems that thankfulness is the one thing which helps to keep the mind thoughtful all while keeping one’s passions sober.

I’m not as thankful as I should be

A major reason why I’ve decided to blog about thankfulness is because as I read the Bible, I am regularly reminded that I should be thankful. The Bible has many stories in which people who endured some terrible circumstances were able to sincerely tell God, and others, “Thank you”— or, they expressed some sort of gratitude and appreciation either during, or after these hard times. And, they were sincere about it!

Were they thankful for the hard times they endured? I doubt it. But, there seems to be a pattern of thankfulness concerning the troubles they endured because these experiences prepared them for a new phase in their lives, and other times, thankfulness was expressed because these indiviudals knew that their situations could have been worse! Certainly, there are other reasons why people were thankful, but that’s not the focus of this post 🙂

I want to develop a thankful heart

I want to be sincerely thankful for my life, and the experiences, etc., which God sees fit for me to endure. This will require a lot of courage, and of course, trust in Him— but I’m okay with that. Two years ago, I made a daily commitment to find a reason to be thankful, and to express that thankfulness to God during daily prayer time, in addition to living out that thankfulness each day of my life— I’m not perfect, I only get it right on some days, and on other days…not so much.

Thankful people are free!

And, I want to be free! I want to be able to endure life’s ups and downs, and still be thankful! I want to always find and hold on to the good in any situation, and allow it to further teach and mold me into being the person I should be.

I could go on, and on, but I think you get the point: I am dedicating a portion of this blog to thankfulness. Maybe I’ll even post on different aspects of thankfulness, like “how to be thankful”, effects of thankfulness and the need for more gratitude in everyday life. But, all-in-all, I’ll be blogging about reasons why I am thankful.

Some of you might remember the “Thankfulness” blog posts I published two years ago. This is a [better] continuation of that. And for those of you who like to dig a little deeper and read more about thankfulness, I will be adding some links and higlights from other articles, videos, etc., on some aspect of thankfulness. I’ll start with Merriam-Webster’s definition of thankful, and the Holman Christian Standard Bible’s definition article, enttitled, “Thanksgiving“. I hope you find this informative and useful as I have: Thankful and Thanksgiving.

Right now

2016 has been a very difficult year for me, but I’ve learned that I can, and will, endure these challenges. And one day, I hope to look back with even more thankfulness in my heart, and insights to share with others who need them.

So, tell me— why are you thankful?

The TDarris Blog is Under Construction // Buy My Book— it’s Only 99 Cents :-)

A better site, with better content, and features is coming soon! In the meantime, buy my book :)— here’s the link https://www.amazon.com/Ingenue-Stuff-Wrote-Heart-Book-ebook/dp/B01JVS6XZW

I’m a Vegetarian— for a week ;)

So, among other things, I decided to be a vegetarian this week, and to see how I feel about continuing this interesting lifestyle next weekend. I want to see how a few simple changes in my life can make big and positive changes. I expect to post the results on next Sunday. Even if I don’t decided to continue to be a vegetarian, I have decided that I will consume a mostly plant-based diet. But, my goal is to eventually become a vegetarian— the reasons for which I expect to discuss at a later time.

This decison was inspired by other people’s good and bad health experiences as a direct result of their diets and lifestyles, and my personal battle with sickness which had lasted several years. (I expect to share more about my story at a later time.) I have watched people change their diets to live some very wholesome and healthy lives, and I want to continually the same “healthy and active lifestyle” I enjoyed not long ago.

I will be combining my vegetarian diet with daily cardio, and some strength training, body weight and kettlebell workouts throughout each week. (I can post my actual routines later this week, or next week.) And, if you’re wondering what exactly I’ll be eating, just know that I have lots of dark, leafy vegetables, apples, lemons, carrots, snap peas, and chocolate almond milk to accompany my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I have lots of other fresh fruits and vegetables, and a Women’s vitamin supplement and Super B Complex from Garden of Life. So, I’m covered in the nutrition department.

I’m not “sick” anymore, and I’m no longer bewildered and at a standstill in my life concerning what I’ve been through. So, it’s time to get moving, and to take control of my health— and my life— again.

Hopefully, my story will help and encourage someone else to bounce back after infirmity, challenges and difficulty.

Before I was sick, one of my “hobby-goals” was to be a certified fitness trainer so that I could help others to realize their firness goals in my freetime. That goal still hums in my heart, and someday, I expect to accomplish it. I also expect to return to the dance studio to continue to study, perform and teach dance, participate in marathons, and to continue to live the healthy, active lifetsyle I’ve enjoyed most of my life— and, I will.

I’ll eventually start posting my stats and progress photos. I’m using my Fitbit equipment to track my performance and progress. I have a FitBit Aria scale, and a Zip and Charge HR tracker to help me along the way.

Here’s to good health, moving around and healthy living!

So, tell me your story. What are your health and/or fitness goals, and what are you doing to make them a reality in your life? Post your responses in the comments section, or under my post for this at Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Book Review: “How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit” by A.W. Tozer

61ltk5gsbel-_ux250_I received A.W. Tozer’s “How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit” from Moody Publishers.

This book holds another poignant message which challenges the Christian to attend another meditative self-review of his, or her, innermost values, and desires, so that he, or she, may realize the degree of importance to which he, or she, holds the personal relationship to, and with, God. In the first chapter, entitled, “Who is the Holy Spirit?”, Tozer begins by first distinguishing the difference between the natural world and the spirit world.

Then, in chapter two (“The Promise of the Father”), Tozer provides a brief, but constructive, introduction to the Holy Spirit as he describes His origin, role, and purpose, as a member of the Holy Trinity (or, Godhead) and as God in the Christian’s life. Tozer is clear in his description of the Holy Spirit even as he establishes the fact that the Christian must depend totally upon the Holy Spirit in order to effectively live for Jesus Christ.

Next, in the third chapter, entitled, “How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit”, Tozer explains how the Christian can be filled with the Holy Spirit— but after he asks seven vital questions:

  1. Is the Spirit-filled life for you (pg. 40)?
  2. Can you believe this part (i.e., to be Spirit-filled) is part of God’s plan (pg. 41)?
  3. Can you believe the Spirit is loveable (pg. 42)?
  4. Can you believe this is scriptural (pg. 43)?
  5. Do you want to be filled (pg. 44)?
  6. Do you want Him to be Lord of your life (pg. 46)?
  7. Are you sure you need Him (pg. 48)?

It is after the position of these questions, and some insightful commentary, that Tozer explains how to receive the Holy Spirit by referencing the Holy Bible:

  1. Present you Body to Him (Romans 12:1 – 2).
  2. Ask to be filled (Luke 11:9 – 13 and Psalms 2:8).
  3. Obey the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32).
  4. Have faith in God (Galatians 3:2).

Finally, Tozer explains how to cultivate the Spirit’s companionship as he cites the scripture, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3).” Perhaps Tozer’s statement (on page 56) not only summarizes Chapter 4 (i.e., “How to Cultivate the Spirit’s Companionship”), but it also harmonizes the message of this entire book:

“I don’t want to say this, but I think that some of you may not be ready for the message because you are more influenced by the world than you are by the New Testament. I am perfectly certain that I could rake up fifteen boxcar loads of fundamentalist Christians this hour in the city of Chicago who are more influenced in their whole outlook by Hollywood than they are by the Lord Jesus Christ. I am positive that much that passes for the [G]ospel in our day is very little more than a very mild case of orthodox religion grafted onto a heart that is sold out to the world in its pleasures and tastes and ambitions (1952).”

In this final chapter, Tozer also presents six important things which Christians must do in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit after he poses one important question (on page 54)— “Are you ready for this?”

After this question, Tozer enumerates some of the blessings and benefits of allowing the Holy Spirit to take on His rightful role in the Christian’s life. Then, Tozer lists the six important things which the Christian must either remember, or do, if he, or she, is ready to be filled with the Holy Spirit:

  1. The Holy Spirit is a living Person [therefore, the Christian must relate to the Holy Spirit as the Person He is] (pg. 57).
  2. Be engrossed with Jesus Christ (pg. 58).
  3. Walk in righteousness (pg. 59).
  4. Make your thoughts a clean sanctuary (pg. 60).
  5. Seek to know him in the Word (pg. 61).
  6. Cultivate the art of recognizing the presence of the Spirit (pg. 63).

So, to summarize this book, Tozer is explaining that while a Christian can have sincerely accepted and received the free gift of salvation offered to all by the Self-sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it is also possible for that same Christian to not be filled by the Holy Spirit, and as a result, miss out on a very intimate, life-changing and wholesome experience with the One whom Jesus promised would be our “Comforter” , and the One who would teach us all that we would need to know after Jesus ascended to the Father in Heaven (John 16:7).

This is another one of Tozer’s works which I have added to my personal library, and I highly recommend that Christians who wish to know how they can live out their purpose read this book. Tozer’s message can help the seeking Christian to understand that the Christian already has a purpose (Isaiah 43:7)—- the Christian just needs to know God’s plan for his, or her, life so that living out that purpose can be done (Jeremiah 29:11 – 13). But, this is done by cultivating an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Tozer’s fearless assessment and rebuke of the modern Church’s seemingly mass abstention from the influence and leadership of the Holy Spirit, and its widely evident conformity to many of the world’s ways and attitudes, further encourages me to take greater critical self-assessment in order to truly understand my personal need for more of the Holy Spirit’s influence and leadership in my life, and I hope this book encourages other Christians to do the same.

How to Make a Chapbook

Here’s a great way to make a handmade poetry chapbook using the YourStory thermal book binder (and laminating) machine. This was the first time I had used a thermal machine of this sort to make books. Prior to this I’ve only used a glue gun, or just made books using the “saddle stich” (or, staple bound) method.

Moreover, I made this video using the WeVideo mobile app. I’m trying to gain skills making good quality videos using mobile apps, and of course, my Nikon video camera and video software.