Summer Road Trip Series Part I: Go West Young Man

By Marianna Boyce

arizona sign (p1)Have you ever heard of Sierra Vista, Arizona? It’s a great little city in Cochise County about twenty miles north of Mexico, but 1,921.5 miles west of South Carolina. You’ll discover the reason Sierra Vista holds a special place in my heart as we travel west for my summer road trip series.

rocky wall w flag (p2)In a day where everyone is in a hurry to do everything, flying the friendly skies makes more sense, but my preferred method of travel is the traditional American ‘let the top down’ road trip to see the beautiful sights our country has to offer. Gerry and I have done both—many times.

We embarked on this long journey with our daughter Tiffany and her family in 2015. Our son Cody was unable to go with us, but he expressed interest in our taking the same exact route to this special little dot on the map the following year. He knew it wouldn’t take much to convince me of another opportunity to drive west.

I had kept a journal of our original trip, so we easily charted the same course in 2016. It was awesome knowing exactly where we were going and how long it would take to get there; but for this adventure, we made no hotel reservations. We threw caution to the wind and prayed God would protect and have us in the right places at the right times. Talk about faith. Be sure to read my future posts to see how that worked out for us.

Of course, as a woman, I packed everything but the kitchen sink days in advance. It was neatly organized in the dining room waiting for our departure day of June 8. I even packed lime green spray paint…

Gerry was slated to drive the first leg of the trip, so he took the day off to rest while Cody and I worked. Once I arrived home, Gerry neatly arranged everything in the trunk of my light sage-colored Lincoln MKZ. Over the years, I’ve learned this process is much easier when I’m not involved. His goal was to leave the backseat open for whoever needed to rest or just enjoy the ride. The only thing he tossed inside the car was a comfy pillow and my purse.

We planned to leave that evening in order to travel as far as we could while traffic was light. Have you ever driven through Atlanta at lunchtime? Exactly!

After a quick burger, fries, and frosty at a local fast food restaurant for supper, we embarked on our wind-in-your-hair road trip. I chose the backseat to start our journey, but took a silent vow to leave my backseat driving instructor mentality at home. I can’t express how difficult that was for me.

blinding sun (p9)The sun was blinding as it set in the western sky, so I put on my sunglasses, placed that comfy pillow behind my back, and propped my bare feet up on the console in front of me. “Go West, young man,” I recall saying to my husband. “Life is good!”

We drove west on I-20 all night and left South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi in our rear view. There’s not much to see at night, so Cody—being in line to drive—catnapped. My job was keeping whoever was driving awake, but I was still careful to leave my backseat driving wisdom at the house.

early morning sunrise (p11)After twelve hours, we decided to stop in Monroe. The sun was peeking over the eastern horizon, so we thought stopping for a hearty breakfast at Waffle House was a great way to greet the new day. Not to mention, we were also in desperate need of strong coffee.

For those who remember the television show, Duck Dynasty, the Duck Commander store was only a few miles down the road from Waffle House, so we stopped by to see if Phil, Willie, Jase, or Si were there. It was still very early, so their store was closed. We walked around in the parking lot for a few minutes before heading west again on I-20. It felt good to stretch our weary bodies after the long ride.

 

With the first leg of our trip in the books, Gerry took over the coveted backseat to get some much-needed sleep. Cody gladly took the wheel while I rode shotgun. I gave him a gerry sleeping (p13)tough choice between me or Siri as his trusty navigator. He chose wisely: Siri it was.

From Louisiana, we headed toward the great state of Texas. Of course,cody driving (p14) any amazing road trip wouldn’t be quite as good if you didn’t sing, “On the Road Again,” in your best Willie Nelson twang. In spite of mine and Cody’s bellowing, Gerry was asleep in mere moments…

*The photos used in this post are personal photos from my amazing road trip. They may not be the best quality, but they are all near and dear to my heart. Enjoy!*

Destination Unknown

By Marianna Boyce

For Memorial Day, a moment to acknowledge the men and women who died while serving in our military for the United States of America is definitely in order. Our fallen soldiers secured freedoms we enjoy today by making the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I’m forever grateful for their selfless acts of valor.american flag

For many people, Memorial Day also serves as the unofficial start of summer. I am not what you’d consider a world traveler, so when it comes to vacations, my preference is sticking close to home.

As you’re reading this post, I’m heading back from Folly Beach in Charleston, South Carolina. I love the more mature vibe Folly has to offer, and it’s only 125 miles away. Gerry loves playing his guitar on the beach or poolside while I relax in the chair next to him. The bright sound of that Martin guitar is incredibly soothing while listening to the ocean waves rolling onto shore. It’s absolutely divine!guitar

Some of my travels have also lured me further from home, but always for good reasons. The first flight I ever boarded was in 2002 for an all expense paid trip to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. This tropical paradise at the exotic Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove is situated 1,475 miles from home. It is filled with indescribable splendor and beauty, but be wary of the island’s “voodoo juice” and shenanigans on the beach after dark. I’m thankful Gerry always had the presence of mind to remove us from questionable situations. With that being said, the white sand, crystal clear blue water, CoCo Joe’s, and steel drums playing nearby, are four things everyone should experience personally. Did I mention the crystal clear blue ocean water? Wowza!

The following year, we traveled by air to New Orleans, and boarded a cruise ship to Cozumel, Mexico. This was another all expense paid trip by my employer 2,765 miles from home. Gerry said I was the luckiest woman he knew. I thought he meant because I was married to him, but maybe it was for the great trips I won instead. Being whisked away from my comfort zone made me mindful of how small we really are on this terrestrial ball. My feelings on venturing further from home slowly began to change. With that being said, I truly pushed the envelope with my next adventure.

The best vacation I’ve ever taken was a 4,614 mile round trip, nine day, adventure filled trek across the United States of America. This trip to Arizona wasn’t won by any contest; however, it was indeed a gift. I’m sure you’re bewildered, so I invite you to “ride along” with me this summer as I write about reasons this adventure is my favorite one of all time.

What better way to kick off the unofficial start of summer than with a purely unadulterated, top down, wind in your hair road trip series? With our course charted, and several interesting stops planned along the way, we headed west on I-20.route 66

This vacation perfectly divides my normal life with what I often refer to as my alternate universe. It was the day we returned home that my new voyage began. Unfortunately, I had to navigate uncharted territory with my destination completely unknown. Within fourteen days, intense chronic pain had overtaken my entire body. I was neither physically or mentally prepared, but God saw fit that my incredible journey beforehand was completely unhindered.

Be on the lookout for my Summer Road Trip Series. This will be fun y’all. Where are your travels taking you this summer? Until next time…

A Mother’s Intuition

By Marianna Boyce

It’s Mother’s Day weekend and my mind is full.  For those who have either lost their mom, or a bereaved mother that has lost a child, I cannot fathom how difficult it must be.  I pray fond memories comfort your hearts, especially this weekend.

Roses

With so many ideas, I wasn’t sure which direction to take.  Instinctively, I began writing about my amazing mom and quickly concluded this blog could not contain all the stories of her loving kindness in just one post.  She is absolutely the best!

Another fun idea was to share my motherhood blunders.  I didn’t write much before realizing I had enough material to write a novel.  As a contributor to Every Woman Blog, there are countless opportunities to share these stories in future posts.

MomAfter writing and deleting several rough drafts, a reminiscent and relative story kept finding its way to the forefront of my mind.  It’s about the day my intuitive mom revealed to me a little secret…

Soon after I married, I invited my mom and daddy over for supper on an unusually cool evening in September.  Mom taught me to cook when I lived at home, but I wasn’t up for cooking a huge meal with all the trimmings.  I made homemade vegetable soup instead.  Everyone raved how delicious it was, and they also enjoyed homemade brownies I made by reading the instructions on the back of a box (wink wink.)  Their praises made this young new bride beam with pride.

After dessert and coffee, I felt nauseous.  Breaking out in a sweat, I thought I’d up-chuck right there on my living room floor, but let not your hearts be troubled:  I thankfully made it to the bathroom just in time.  The best mom in the universe followed me down the hall to help her baby girl.  She placed a cold cloth on the back of my neck, and another one to wipe my forehead as I was hugging the porcelain throne.  I was mortified!  How horrible would it be for everyone to get food poisoning from something I lovingly cooked for them.  Luckily, no one else was sick.

I felt much better after my unfortunate episode, so mom and I tidied the kitchen.  She tried making me sit down to relax, but I stubbornly refused.  She looked at me and said, “Honey, I think you’re pregnant.  There’s something different about you, and I believe you’re going to be a new mommy.”

What was different?  How did she know?

After scheduling a doctor’s appointment, I invited my intuitive mom to accompany me for support.  It turns out she was right and knew it before anyone else.  She was truly ecstatic, and I was scared to death!  Her baby was having a baby.

BabyI was married on July 18, 1987, and my due date was April 18, 1988, exactly nine months to the day.  I am 100% positive that Cody was conceived on my honeymoon night.  There’s a comical story to share in another post how I know that for sure…

We never need a special day to honor our mothers.  We just need special mothers to honor everyday.  I’m blessed to have two.  To my mom, Mary Lee Caldwell, and mother-in-law, Eleanor Boyce, I love you both dearly.  To my amazing bonus daughter Tiffany, remember being a mom is the most difficult, yet most rewarding job a woman can ever have.  You’re a terrific mom!  Happy Mother’s Day ladies.

New Year…New You…No Dieting!

By Marianna Boyce

I hope everyone had a great start to the new year!  Hopefully, if you made any resolutions, you will keep them much longer than I ever did.  If you read my last LMC post, “D-I-E-T…That Dirty Four Letter Word,” you already know I swore fad diets off forever.  I chose the whole lifestyle change instead.

I simply started by cutting my calorie intake.  I continued eating the food I was normally eating, just much less of it.  What a novel idea!  When I lost five pounds in a few weeks, I was surprised and excited all at the same time!  This pushed me to go a step further.

I had to make myself accountable in some way so I downloaded a calorie counting app on my device.  I measured everything for a couple of weeks just until I was confident in the portion sizes I should be eating.  On days I exceeded my calorie allowance, I logged everything anyway!  Seeing the overage in calories ALWAYS encouraged me to make better choices the following day.

Helpful hints…

  • Download any free calorie counting app of your choice. I personally like the “Lose It” app.
  • When entering your personal information, set your goal weight 10 lbs lower than your actual weight. Losing 10 lbs is obtainable for anyone.  Set new goals as you reach each one.  “Inch by inch, anything’s a cinch.”
  • Log all food and drinks…even one itty bitty Hershey Kiss. (22 calories by the way)
  • Eat only enough to keep from being hungry. Fueling your body throughout the day makes for a good experience which is how it’s supposed to be.  You should never be hungry, but you should also never be “stuffed”.
  • Drink plenty of water! It has zero calories!
  • Don’t go back for seconds.salad
  • If you love salad, load up on lettuce, carrots, cucumbers etc. Eliminate or go easy on cheese, bacon bits and croutons.  Choose wisely on dressing.  Don’t go overboard if you choose the creamy ones.
  • If you love bread and dessert, don’t cut them out completely, just cut the portion at least by half.
  • If you somehow find yourself at Rush’s or McDonalds, choose a smaller burger and skip the fries.burger
  • Always have healthy snacks available at home and work. One ingredient snacks such as grapes, bananas, apples, almonds, pistachios, or boiled eggs are good.  Any of these, plus a glass of water should be enough to satisfy.  (Unless you have a food allergy to them.)
  • Eat or drink protein if possible. Protein makes you feel full.
  • If you like chips, buy the individual small bags of baked chips. They are more expensive but they are pre-measured and only average 150 calories per bag.  Limit yourself to one.  You’re at least getting to eat chips!  How cool is that?
  • If you walk or exercise, log that in also. This will credit more calories to your account for the day.
  • Your goal is staying below your calorie allowance. This is when weight loss will occur.
  • Weigh once a week in the morning before you eat or drink anything. Don’t be afraid to step on that horrible scale!  If you are serious about this method, it won’t be long you’ll be happy to step on that wonderful scale.  (Yes, I just said that!)
  • Don’t beat yourself up over a bad day. Log it all in, get over it, and move on to the next day.  Don’t EVER wait until the following week.  Your progress is worth more than tossing it out the window for one bad day.  It’s going to happen, but this should never derail your plan.

 If your goal is to lose weight and keep it off, stop “dieting”.  It’s easy getting started.  Simply cut down on what you’re currently eating.  If you are under the care of a physician and on a specialized diet, stick with your doctor’s plan.

Take a week or two to familiarize yourself with your new app.  Logging will get quicker.  This app will begin to remember your favorites so be patient.  If you don’t like logging, do it for three months.  Once you know your limits, you can discontinue logging but keep eating wisely.  I’m the type of person that needs to keep track.

I have lost 10 lbs since October.  This time span includes 2 family reunions, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.  My clothes are fitting much better already.  One photo is me this past summer at 155 lbs.  The other is me at 145 lbs which is where I am currently.  My goal is 135 lbs.  This is where my body is at its optimum.

Some may need to lose more and some less.  Regardless of gender and if given a fair shake, this can potentially create a HAPPY NEW YOU for all of 2019, and even beyond.  This is what works for me.  I would love to hear what works best for you.

 

 

D-I-E-T… That Dirty Four Letter Word

By Marianna Boyce

KermitThe new year is upon us and I know many of us make that pesky “diet” resolution with all good intentions.  I did for many years, until I decided to swear them off all together.  I was tired of all the unsustainable fad diets I had tried.  I was ready to try something different.  The premise was quite simple.  The cost?  Zero dollars.  I actually resolved on 12-31-13 NOT to diet!  This revolutionized my life.  It could potentially do the same for you.  Did you just roll your eyes?  Please keep reading…

I was 45 years old and weighed 155 lbs at the time.  My goal was to lose 25 lbs by the summer of 2014.  For me, the download of an app on the new iPad I received from Santa that year was all it took.  There were many calorie counting apps available but I chose the “Lose It” app.

cookiesWhat did I eat?  Anything I wanted, EXCEPT I was quite diligent in not eating above the number of calories allotted for me by the app.  Yes, I had tough days where Zestos or Rush’s was my choice for the day, but I logged in everything anyway!  My device never once exploded in my hand or fussed at me!  I never allowed one bad day here and there to derail my plan.

In 28 days, I had lost 10 lbs!  I was thrilled!  It had everything to do with calories, calories, calories!   Combining better food choices with a brisk walk at least three times a week in the early spring melted away the last 15 lbs.  By summertime, 2014, I was at my sister’s pool very confident in my new mint green and pink bathing suit.  I hadn’t owned a two piece in years!  I felt incredible!

All it took was dedicating 5 to 10 minutes every day to log my calorie intake.  I remained dedicated for a full 2 ½ years.  This kept me honest and my weight was always very well maintained in the 130 to 135 lb range for that entire time.

It was June, 2016, when my life was turned upside down.  My mysterious illness, and the daily chronic pain that came along with it, caused me to stop logging completely.  That was the first time my extra weight returned.  Now that I’m feeling somewhat better, I have set a new goal for myself.  Trust me, if this hadn’t worked for me the first time, I wouldn’t be doing it again!

If you want to try it, download any free calorie counting app on your device.  Input the initial information it asks…age, weight, height, goal weight, etc.  No one else will ever see this info unless you choose to share it.  Just know that it will not work unless you are 100% honest all the time!  Trust me!  I tried fibbing my way through here and there and it didn’t work!  If you do it right, you will lose weight.

If you plan to try this method, I have a word to the wise.  I would be conservative on your GOAL weight to start with.  Let’s say you weigh 250 lbs and need to lose 100 lbs.  Set your goal weight at 240 lbs.  This allows you more calories to start with so its not such a drastic change.  This is more incremental and less stressful.  (Baby steps ladies!)  Once you lose your first ten lbs, pat yourself on the back and set a new goal for 230 lbs, and so forth and so on.

I’ve lost eight lbs since 10-18-18.  This equates to about a pound a week.  I could’ve been further along, but I still lost weight…Thanksgiving included!  (Of course I was over on calories that day.)  The pound cake I had was heavenly!  It was definitely worth every calorie, and I logged in all three pieces!

applesWe never have to wait for a new year to improve our health and wellness but it just so happens 2019 is here now.  If you’re tired of fad diets and you’re ready to make a change, this may very well be for you.  Of course, feel free to check with your doctor before starting anything new.  I wouldn’t consider this a diet per se.  It’s simply a lifestyle change.

I hope you choose to join me.  What have you got to lose?  I will share tips that help me, and will also continue to update my progress in an upcoming post.

Happy New Year everyone…especially if you’ve chosen NOT to diet!

My Not So Great Christmas…

By Marianna Boyce

This blog post was initially going to be about delightful Christmas memories.  When I walked up the sidewalk at Salon on Main for my hair appointment before Thanksgiving, I knew I had to change direction.  Maybe I’ll reminisce about my childhood another year.

The statement on my salon’s marquee outside read, “Where God Guides He Provides.”  Of course, this sent my brain firing on all cylinders.  I could hardly wait to pen my thoughts onto paper.  Their messaging was great!  The memories it stirred?  Not so great!  Just stay with me a minute y’all.

My two adopted granddaughters, now ages 11 and 13 came to mind.  Their young lives have not always been merry and bright. Seven years ago, God saw fit to remove them from the hellish situation they were living.  Even though they now have all the love, care, and attention any child could ever hope for, they are both still haunted by their past.  Material gifts cannot give back the formative years that were lost at such tender ages.  My prayer is they both learn to depend on God in a mighty way and not allow their unfortunate past define who they become in the future.

My next thought reverted me to 2016…a year I will never forget!  This was the year I had a not so great Christmas!  Okay, it was really quite depressing, and to be totally honest, it was the most horrible holiday season I had ever experienced in my entire life!  All I remember was the excruciating joint pain riddled throughout my entire body.  All I could think of was myself!  (Selfish much)?  Indeed I was!  My exhausting experience was dreadful!  When heartache, pain, and sorrow come knocking at your door, nothing else really seems to matter.

During that time, not only did I begin shutting out family and friends, I also left out God.  Miraculously, God never left me!  It was just little ‘ole me…and a very big God.  He was still faithful to guide me through some of the darkest days of my life.  He strategically and sporadically placed those precious family members, friends, and even strangers in my life to push me over the numerous hurdles I so painfully endured.  Thankfully, I am much better now.

Maybe you haven’t yet crossed that threshold.  If not, just know that God cares for you too.  If you’re looking for Him, He’s not hard to find.  Just listen for that still, small voice.  He will never barge His way inside your heart and life.  He must be invited.  His timing is always perfect though.

quoteWhile many people are decking their halls, trimming their tree, gathering around a warm cozy fire, baking sweet treats, etc., there are also many that cannot merrily go about their business.  Maybe you are missing your military husband, wife, son or daughter halfway around the world.  Are you a single parent just trying to make ends meet?  Maybe you’re coping with the loss of a loved one or caring for elderly parents.  Does something just seem to be missing?  Do you just simply dread this time of year?  My prayer for you is to  find comfort, peace and joy this holiday season.

For those who can be someone’s Christmas cheer this year, you may very well be an answer to a simple prayer!  A smile and a kind word goes a long way!  If you can do more, feel free to do so!  Remembering the Reason for the Season and also, wherever God guides, He will indeed provide.

May God bless you and your family this holiday season!  Merry Christmas!

Treasured Traditions…Fire It Up & Pass The Biscuits!

By Marianna Boyce

It’s that time of the year when many of us may experience feelings of nostalgia.  I love reminiscing about holidays past.  pic 2On Thanksgiving Day, rest assured, my Daddy will be outside raking and burning leaves in his brick fire pit.  (He will probably also be sporting a tie!)  I adore watching him stand there stoically with his hands propped up on the rake while he watches the leaves burn.  It always sparks great conversation when my son and I smell a fire off in the distance in crisp autumn air.  I’m thankful God has blessed us with another year for Daddy to light his traditional Thanksgiving bonfire.

I also need to introduce you to my maternal grandmother (Maw).  She was the only one of my grandparents that I remember.  She was no bigger than a minute but she owned a large personality.  She passed away many years ago at the tender age of ninety.  One thing I always loved watching her do when I was a child was make homemade buttermilk biscuits.  She would scoop out a handful of lard and circle it around the huge mound of flour in her “magical” wooden bowl.  She would “squish” flour and lard as she slowly poured buttermilk into the bowl with her arthritic hands.  She would incorporate and knead it until it possessed the consistency of perfection. That small handful of lard “magically” transformed into a large ball of dough.  Maw would then pinch off a bit and roll it in her tiny hands.  As she placed that ball of dough on her baking pan, she would gently place her knuckle prints across the top of each biscuit.  This was a must!  She often remarked without the knuckle prints, they just wouldn’t taste as good!

pic 3My precious Mama has continued making these biscuits after Maw passed away.  I had always wanted to learn but it just looked so daunting.  Every Thanksgiving at Mama’s house, I watch her in action.  She always makes it look so easy!  Last Thanksgiving (2017), she just wasn’t herself.  She was experiencing a great deal of pain in her back and could hardly stand, but she just HAD to make those biscuits.  I told her to sit next to me in the kitchen and teach me to make them instead.  It was time to pass the torch!  Mama didn’t realize I was also experiencing an excess of pain in my body related to RA, especially in my hands; however, I was willing to suffer through the pain for my sweet Mama!

pic 1I grimaced when I started pouring cold buttermilk into the bowl incorporating it with the lard and flour.  After a minute or two, a Thanksgiving miracle happened!  It turned out, this was VERY therapeutic for my hands.  Once I finished, I felt fantastic!  The smell of freshly baked biscuits wafting through the air was enough to make anyone’s day!  I could hardly wait for both of us to taste one piping hot from the oven!  My oldest brother Tommy was certain we would be using them for weapons, but I’m happy to report that my first batch of biscuits turned out quite good.  I had a great teacher, but of course Maw AND Mama’s biscuits remain unmatched!  Maybe this year she will teach me to make her homemade giblet gravy.  I’ll be making the biscuits!

We truly need to pass on precious memories and treasured traditions to our future generations.  I’m wondering if we should even revive some that we’ve “forgotten.”  So much seems to get lost along the way.  When did we get in a big hurry to do everything?  The answer is…just one moment at a time!  Let’s just slow down this holiday season and simply enjoy the journey.  God bless you and your family!  Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

  •  I have lost one additional pound since my last post (for a total loss of 5 pounds). I hoped to be further along by now, but you know…Halloween candy and all.  I have a fondness for Reese’s cups!  (Who knew?)  Only 15 more pounds to lose!