Refreshing times with good company as my journey continues with part 2 of my story

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Well, it’s been an odd yet blessed week to say the least. I’ve continued to press through each day regardless of physical ailments and just keep hoping. The wonderful thing is, there’s often blessings in the storm! This last semester was my final one CCC. Upon my exit of this fall term, I have fulfilled the requirements to receive not just one AA, but two AA’s and a STEM certificate and biological studies! This is a journey I’ll cover in better detail as I review my story. As a celebration of this success, my godmother invited my dear friend and sister in the Lord, and me to share a day at a very prestigious spa called Burke Williams in San Francisco! Honestly, I have never been so pampered in my life! Time in the Jacuzzi, sauna, 50 minute massage, all the provisions that were there… ugggh it was like heaven on earth!!! We then headed out for some sushi and window shopping! I got to explore Tiffany and co, where I found their new scent. (Just FYI, don’t smell it on the paper tester… You HAVE to smell it on skin)! It’s so wonderful! After all the fun, we all headed toward the BART and then went off to face our responsibilities for the remainder of the day. I closed my day with some time with my beloved counselor who I see more as a mentor/ trusted friend that I get to see every week. Then, I headed home and enjoyed dinner and some dark chocolate and almonds, which has become my new favorite dessert! The whole day was like a day of refreshing after sharing the first part of my testimony with you all of which was also probably one of the hardest parts for me to unwrap. Now, it’s time to continue where I left off. To those of you who have read the first portion, thank you for sharing in my journey! To those of you just joining me, feel free to look at my previous post to see how my journey ties together. One thing I will say before I begin is that I don’t want you all to feel sorry for me or pity me one bit. The fact of the matter is, life. brings. trials. Plain and simple. What I want you to do is to look at it and be encouraged to see how many times God has brought me through! My trials have given me strength and character that I would’ve developed no other way! They have brought me to points where I’ve been near the end of myself at times; however, I wouldn’t trade them for the world! I am who I am today because of them and because of Christ in me! Now… my journey continues…

My Journey Part 2

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV

http://bible.com/114/php.3.13-14.nkjv

I love how the Bible uses pressing on, persevering, and running towards a goal or prize to display a point of releasing the past and embracing all that God has for you! What I love even more-so is how true this is in my own life! It seems that so many times I’ve had to let go of what I thought I wanted and press on towards what God wants for my life.

Now, I left off in my journey with the phone call that I made to my mom and the ticket that she sent me to get on the greyhound bus and head toward Oakland, Ca to meet her. Just prior to my call, a friend of mine asked me what my New Year’s resolution was. I told them half heartedly that I wanted a roof over my head, to get clean, and a cat of my own. January 10, 2007 I got high one last time and was soon after dropped off at the Greyhound bus station in San Diego with just a couple of dollars in my pocket and a suitcase with one carry-on that held the scarce remains of the 23 & 1/2 years I had lived. My mind I kept thinking that this was a temporary visit. I wanted to believe so badly that I would end up returning to San Diego to wallow in the addiction that nearly killed me several times, BUT God had other plans!

As I got on the bus, a slight chill ran over me. I sat down next to the window and I stared coldly at the world outside, trying my best to choke back tears as thoughts of everything I’d been through ran through my head. “I’ll return… I’ll make some money and come right back,” I thought. Then, like a moment in a movie, the bus driver turned on the bus, the radio came along with it. That moment, the song “I’m coming home“ by Daughtry played. My gut sank, and my spirit knew that this trip was not temporary. It was permanent. It amazes me how life circulates and such familiar patterns. Here I am in another transition in my life, exiting the community college level, and the anniversary of my exit into freedom from drug addiction is just a few short days from now.

The bus took off and all I could think about was how to get a hold of some more drugs. During one of the pitstops, I asked the guy was sitting next to me if he had anything. Apparently, he had just finished his. Then, another man that overheard me said that if I got off on the next stop with him that we could make an arrangement. I automatically knew what he was talking about, but I was hoping that he would just take a trade for some items.

The next stop came, I got off the bus, and the man and I headed to a motel in Los Angeles. When we checked into his room, he made it clear that he was wanting something sexual from me. I begged him to let me trade him my cell phone for some drugs, but he refused. He started getting aggressive, and I panicked and began to cry and beg him to let me go back to the bus and go home. He gave me five dollars for a taxi and told me that I could just use my greyhound ticket to get back on the next bus going to San Diego so I could complete my journey. I quickly took the money, grabbed my bags and headed out the door.

The front desk called a cab for me. After they picked me up, we headed towards the bus station, and the toll meter showed that the cost of the ride was going to be more than what was given to me. I told the driver that I really needed to get back to the Greyhound station and he so graciously took the five dollars and let me off to catch my bus. Obviously Satan try to grab a hold of me again, but God’s grace came to the rescue!

On the bus, I encountered a few people who were kind and shared their food with me. The next morning, after staying awake all night, I arrived at the Oakland bus station earlier then my scheduled arrival (believe it or not), and called my mom so I could meet up with her. My mom showed up and there I was… smelling like trash and coming down from my last meth high. She just gave me a big hug! Truly, I was home.

During the ride to El Sobrante, we talked about life and what we both had been up to. I was honest with her and told her about the severity of my situation. That evening I asked if we go for a walk, and she invited me to walk up to a place called Kennedy Grove. During this four mile journey, I ran ahead of her about a half block and then ran back. I then reflected on my evening jogs in high school and how much I loved to run when I lived in San Diego before I became a drug addict. I then told my mom that I wanted to run marathons! It’s something I had always wanted to do when I ran in San Diego. I had talked about it a lot and just never did it. She let off a slight laugh, I look her and said that I wanted to at least become able to run up and down each hill that we passed as we walked. She smiled.

Those walks became our evening moments of stress relief. Each night, I would walk with her and sometimes my little brother would come too. I would run ahead a little bit and run back. One block of running became two, one mile became two miles and so on… then… One hill, became two hills and then countless others… I would lose myself in prayer and worship as I journeyed by foot through the streets, hills, and trails of El Sobrante and the many surrounding areas! Then, one day as I was running along side of the road, I came across a man named “Big Al” Who hosted races in the area. Thanksgiving day of 2008, I ran my first 4 mile race and came in second place female. From that point on, I began to run more races ranging in distances from the 100 on the track to a 50 K race in 2014. My journey in running quickly became a metaphor for my recovery. One day clean became two, then one month, a year and so on. Life‘s battles came at me like the mountains I climbed each day when I ran. One by one, by the power of God, I was able to face each giant.

(Picture on left is the very first straight of road that I ran on. Photo on the right bottom is me at my first race. Photo right top is me with”Big Al” at my first half marathon.)

Slowly my life began to come together. Within my first year of living in El Sobrante, I had been gifted a kitten for my birthday that I bottle fed raised, had a consistent place to live, had my first job in my new clean life at Hometown buffet in Pinole California and started making friends (two of which later adopted me as their Goddaughter). My New Year’s resolution had come to pass and then some! I began almost immediately to attend church as well as Celebrate Recovery meetings where I found the love and support from so many people that really helped me grow and become strong in my faith. Soon, I started attending college and dove immediately into the performing arts. It seemed that my life was allll coming together; However, my family life began to take a down hill turn.

A troubled family member of mine Who had already had a Trumatic visit with us prior came to live with us. Along with her came temperament issues as well as severe issues with addiction. Though I tried to rebuild a relationship with her, her lifestyle lead to major conflicts between us. These conflicts as well as her severe addictions lead to several police involved situations. Finally, her actions lead to her owing the wrong people money. She went missing for several days and… my mom received a call that is every mom’s worst nightmare… the police had received a call from my troubled loved one’s friend in New Mexico saying that my troubled loved one had been kidnapped… upon hearing the news… my gut sank and I fell apart. Through some careful questioning of her friends, my mom found out that she had been forced into sex trafficking in San Francisco in order repay a debt. The details of her situation I will keep very minimal as this is not my story to tell.

I used my anguish over the situation to push myself on my daily runs. I purposely ran around areas I knew that she frequented hoping for a sign of her. Family members from New Mexico came out to see if there was anything they could do to help find her, but it all seemed hopeless.

Finally, one morning it was dark and gloomy. I headed out for my morning run and it started raining. I pushed myself to the top of one of my favorite hills in a neighborhood and fell to my knees weeping, asking God why… begging Him to bring her home. Thankfully within a day, she showed up on the porch at my landlord’s house. Just one day before her 16th birthday, she had escaped. She was home. The problem is… what we thought was the end of that trial, was the beginning of a whole new realm of trials we never expected in our wildest dreams.

Now, this post has just gotten a bit lengthy and I feel that it’s a good place to leave off before I continue to share my journey with you. Again, I hope that in sharing my trails with you, you are beautiful to see God‘s hand moving intricately through my life. Though the journey has been dark at times, He has never failed me and never will. If there is anything that I have learned through all of this, it’s that just like the apostle Paul said, I have to let go of what lies behiynd and press on towards the fresh, new beginning’s they God has called me to. I hope you all have a great week, until next post… God bless and Happy New Year!

photo credit: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f9/25/8c/f9258cc4961be5763e60b81fed00892e.jpg

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from trials to many victories… recap of my final semester at CCC

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Achieve… as humans, this is something that we are born and created to do. We were made to create, and to inspire. The problem is that so often many of us get far too caught up in achieving rather than just living and enjoying our lives. I am definitely guilty of this! Those that know me know that I tend to go overboard in this area. Thankfully, this semester I learned a bit about balance.
If you read my last post, y’all would know that I went into the semester not knowing how I was going to make it through. My body was in pain, I was struggling to make it through 8-14 hour days on set (as an extra on a tv show)… I went back to the chiropractor that was helping me while I was racing competitively, Dr. Runco. After my first visit with him, my body was recovering from all of the improper work that had been done to it prior to my visit with him. I was in the kind of pain but I don’t wish on my worst enemy. As the days went on, my body began to heal. With weekly visits, I found I was able to walk more and be more physically active than I’ve been in over a year. What a blessing!!! Days on set and at school became easier for me to face. I even started running a little bit here and there.

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As the semester went on, I ended up working more on set than I was at my job at Kmart. I was also given the opportunity to spend three days on the set of a movie as an extra. My childhood dream to be an actor was coming to life! The problem is, in the middle of it I started to get overly concerned with whether or not I would ever get a SAG voucher or become a member of the union. I stopped focusing on the blessing that was right in front of me. Rather than doing it because I loved it, I began to do it to get something out of it. When I realized this, I quickly adjusted my attitude and continued to enjoy my days on set despite the fact that I didn’t get a voucher. Besides, I was getting treated like a princess! I got to work on set, got free catered breakfast, worked my butt off, met amazing people, got free catered lunch, free snacks all day, got to be a part of a huge production, and went home feeling like I could still do more! I knew this is the job I wanted! For now, due to disclosures I have signed, I’m not at liberty to say which productions I was working on. If and when I am released to do so, I’ll let you all know!

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Now, shortly before the semester ended, my car broke down and ended up being irreparable….. when I started to freak out about this, I began to look back on the many times that God has brought me through. I pressed on, finish the semester, and then finally I am now a college graduate with two AA’s and a STEM certificate in biological studies! Closing the semester off with a bang, I was given the blessing of playing one of the lead roles in my church’s Christmas show, AND was given four tickets (from Alex Ramon) to see him perform at the Lesher performing arts center. I was able to take my godmother, her new husband/my new godfather, and my sweet sister in Christ Irena! I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate such an amazing year!😊😊😊

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Now, I face a semester of no classes! I’ve decided to take some time back and recover, rejuvenate my spirit, and hopefully focus on family, friendships, and enjoying life! People have asked me why I’ve decided to do this, and my answer is that I want to be an actor… also, I want to be able to have friendships and possibly a relationship. While I’m in classes, I don’t have time to focus too much on my nephew and my mom and those who mean the most to me! 2018 is the year that I want to spend giving as much love to the people that I care about as I possibly can. So, I plan to do just that! I hope you all have a merry Christmas! Remember, no matter what you’re facing, you can get through this! My life is testimony of it!

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When Nothing Makes Sense, Eat Chocolate and Keep Going

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I remember the first time I heard of Murphy’s Law. I was working in San Diego at linens n’ things in the Carmel Mountain shopping center. Things just kept going wrong for this lady who came through my line and she said, “you know that’s just like Murphy’s Law for me anything that can go wrong will.” At the time I didn’t really think anything of it. As time went on, however, I began to see that it times in life I can be quite true. One thing goes wrong and it starts a domino effect of continuous drama and trauma. More recently I have tried to remain as positive as possible. The thing is, this week everything finally just took it’s toll. Situations with my trouble love one brought up all the motions and dramatic memories of witnessing her being abused. The guilt that festered deep inside me for not stepping in… only to find when I spoke to my counselor recently about it she assured me it really that was nothing I could do without having harm inflicted on me, and that I really needed to forgive myself. With more recent events that have happened with her, finding out that she’s turned to harsher drugs and is now homeless… my heart aches! Knowing that everything in me wants to help her, however when I’ve done that in the past it’s caused me to fall into a dangerously codependent relationship with her that’s completely unhealthy. That being said I’ve had to make very clear lines to only be willing to be there and help her should she truly be willing to get up and change. Now, I find that the way to show that I love her to continue to go to school so that I can eventually help people like her who really want to get their lives right and to pour as much love as I can into her little one that my mom has adopted. The process has been trying, to say the least. I found myself trying everything I can to self heal and get rid of this pain. From seeing a chiropractor, physical therapist, and even doing the exercises in the book that was recommended to me called “Pain Free” only to find myself in utter pain.  With the treatment that I need so close but just out of reach, I felt nearly hopeless at times. Knowing that there is a remedy, however my insurance doesn’t cover it has just been a portion of the battle. Here it is just the beginning of the semester, I’m not even halfway through I’m so close to just giving up. Praying every step of the way. I know God is working but it’s so hard to see through the storm.  Right here right now I’m choosing  to praise! On an up side… I’be been gaining weight, and still maintaining good grades in school. I was recently promoted at work, was given an opportunity to share my story on my dear friend’s blog, and have opened my new business called Messenger Gear in which I sell clothes and jewelry to help raise funds and awareness to stop human trafficking. All being said and done, amidst my suffering I’m still seeing God work in mighty ways. I may be in pain now, but this can’t last forever. I’ll leave you today with a link to miss Emily Swanson’s blog and podcast series, some reviews of my recent food adventures, and a peek at the clothing line!

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One of my favorite new food addictions has been dark chocolate! Theo makes thee best sea salt almond dark chocolate bars PLUS Trader Joe’s has hit my sweet tooth just right with their cacao nibs!!!

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Aloha bars? … yesss please!

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Froyo with almond slivers and smothered in Hershey sugar free chocolate… yeaaaas!!!!

Now, onto the link to miss Emily’s blog post! Be sure to check it out and subscribe to her new podcast series!

http://beautyinchristthebook.com/darkness-light-healing-podcast-2/

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Finally… Messenger Gear! You can catch this new line on instagram as @messenger_gear the first round of shirts and jewelry will be giving a portion of the proceeds to help an organization called “The Glass Slipper” in which rescues women from sex trafficking! Be sure to also like my page on facebook!

 

Thank y’all for dropping in and sharing my journey with me… until next time… keep pressing on!

Peanut Butter Revelations and Kettle Corn Treats!

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“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so”… I remember singing this song as a kid, however… I never really knew what God’s love is until more recent years. This week, as I was making my lunch, I got a revelation as to why. You see, I was making an almond butter sandwich to take with me when a childhood memory came to the forefront of my mind. I remembered when there was this peanut butter commercial on tv and the mom would put a heart on the peanut butter, close the sandwich, and when the kid got to school… He’d open the sanwich and there it was! I begged my mom to do the same for me. The thing is… Throughout the day, my lunch bag would get tossed around so much that by the time lunch came around, I’d open my sandwich and find a bunch of peanut butter and jelly mush! I asked my mom why she didn’t make the heart, and she swore up and down that she did… It just got messed up by all the tossing around of the days events. Isn’t that what it’s like with God’s love? He places the imprint of His heart on our lives, but the trials and messes of life’s circumstances seem to blot out any sign of it.! For a better idea of where I’m coming from see the following links:

My Story Begins

Into the Wilderness

My Journey Continues

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Since those past blogs, so much more has happened… Things that have brought me to my knees time and time again, questioning how a God that loved me so much could allow these things to happen. In the midst of the chaos that filled my mind… I heard His still, small voice speaking to me saying… “I love you my child!”  So, while making my sandwich, I decided to put a heart in the almond butter and, in going to eat it, I didn’t check to see if the heart was still there. I simply enjoyed every bite and thanked God for His amazing love towards me! This week… I’ve decided that… Despite the pain I’m dealing with and the uncertanties I face… I refuse to doubt the Love of God for me. So much at stake… My health, School, work, finances… There are days when walking is painful and I’ve honestly feared I might not walk properly again (fear is NOT from God) and days when I feel like any moment I could run another marathon… The mental trauma that the lingering health and family issues have caused… Wow… All I can say it that it’s truly by the grace of God that I’ve made it this far! As classes continue, I just finished my first solo in church choir, Harvest carnival coming up along with practices for the singing Christmas tree… Each step… I’ll continue to take in faith knowing that no matter what tomorrow holds… God holds every moment! So, today… I just want to assure you that no matter what you are facing… No matter what life has brought you through… Know that there is an amazing God who loves you! These trials are temporary… Life in Him is eternal! If you are temoted to doubt God’s love for you… Just ask Him to show you! When I do this… I find his heart shaped fingerprints all over my life through the love of family, friends, brothers and sisters in the Lird and in little things in the scenery around me! He never fails to show His love!
Now, as anyone who has followed my posts for any ammount of time probably knows… I love me some sweet treats! Sssooooo… I leave you all with a recipe for healthy kettle corn!

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Healthy “Kettle Corn”
-Ingredients-
1/3 cup trader joe’s popping corn
Olive oil cooking spray
Trader joe’s sea salt
2-3 stevia packets (or sweetener of your choice)

-Directions-
Place popping corn in air popper and let kernals pop. Place popped corn into a sealable container, pray lightly with cooking spray, close the container and shake. Spray again with cooking spray and close the container and shake it up again. Add sea salt to tase and 2-3 pakets of stevia. Close the lid, shake it up and enjoy! I hope ya’ll have an amazing week!

Let It Be

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“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Hebrews 12:17

This is a verse I’ve held onto for some time. As my journey has continued, I’ve pressed through the first few weeks of classes, praising God for each day that I’m able to get up and out of bed. I remain thankful and prayerful on the days I feel good and EXTRA prayerful on the days I don’t feel so good. In this season I’ve been going from classes to doctors appointments, to physical therapy appoinments, helping a loved one with tieing up some loose ends and mourning, trying to help mom with little guy when I can, and… getting ready to (Lord willing) perform in yet another production. While my spirit longs to race again, I found pleasure in building other parts of me! School is like a candy shop of dreams. If you have one, two, three or even more… there are classes to help you learn, grow and build them! Holding onto this verse during this season has truly helped me to see that God has had me away from the racing scene to strengthen my faith in him, rebuild the parts of me that have become weak (both physically and emotionally), and help me regain trust and confidence in Him to do what needs to be done to help my body come to full health once again. He’s even begun to restore childhood items and what not that were llost and/ or stolen over the years. Though, just material items… He knew they were special to me and used various means to have items very much like them restored to me. WOW… what an amazing Abba Father we have!
So the question still lingers… Will I return to the racing scene? Well… I’ll continue to believe God and His promise to me. Meanwhile, I choose to wake up every morning, thank God for another blessed day, praise Him for the loved ones that have seemed to have multiplied in my life lately, and pray HIS will be done because my will… only gets me in trouble =)
Now I must close… Yes, this is yet another brief blog post… however, I pray that wherever you are, if you are facing times of trouble…. know that God is near, He will rebuild what was lost. He will restore all things in such a beautiful way that you could NEVER have done it better yourself. So, give Him your dreams, give Him your desires, let it go and… in the famous words of the Beatles… “Let It Be!”

Roasted pepper turkey breast!

-1 Package Trader Joe’s thin sliced turkey breast

-1 cup “power greens mixture (includes kale and spinach)

-1/2 cup sliced red onion

-1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

-1/2 tsp chili flakes

-sea salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

preheat oven to 350 degrees, place turkey, on cookie sheet lined with foil, sprinkle veggies and seasoning over the top, wrap up in foil and let bake for 15-20 min or until cooked through. Open foil, turn on broiler and let the top get toasted for about 5 min or until slightly golden. Take out and enjoy with some steamed brown veggies or over some nice arugula or other tasty greens!10353636_10202240003480504_7860585532302140382_n

this image was taken prior to baking

Under Construction

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Hmmmm… what a blessing and an honor to be back this week to, Lord willing, give some hope to those of you out there that need a little boost =)

Now, when I left off last time… things had hit an all time low. I had just switched from seeing a chiropractor to seeing a physical therapist (as per my doctor). As my body what adjusting, severe pain set in and I ended up in bed for three days… one of the days, I had actually attempted to head to church, but had to return home due to the pain. Thankfully, the following eve I was able to get in to see the Physical therapist on an emergency visit. She showed me some self adjustment techniques and exercises and sent me on my way with clear instructions to take it easy. So, determined to heal up… that’s what I did! I spent days reading and nurturing myself and preparing mentally for classes to start!

Then, the 12th rolled around… the day I’d been anticipating, yet fearing for some time. Classes were beginning and I was off to face recovery and dive into the semester with a full class schedule.The day prior, I’d actually been able to get to church and enjoy purple book and the service. There, I allowed the Spirit of God to fill me up and prepare me for the coming week… and, the 12th… a success!!! The following day, the day after that, and the one after that… successes in baby steps. While it’s felt like a bit of a pressure-cooker between going to EOPS appointments, classes, trying to get homework done in the library until my book funds come in, pushing through the chaos of toddler tantrums and family drama to get what I can done while I’m at home…. I’m SO grateful for every moment of it! The learning process is something that I find quite addicting =)In the long run, I know it will produce good fruit!  Now, being that this season has begun, this sight is under construction =) I mentioned before that I will be reducing my posts to once every other week or possibly even just once a month. Hopefully, this way I’ll have  more of a chance to allow the Holy Spirit to inspire my words. In closing I will say…. I’m thankful for everyone who has helped me on my journey so far… Jesus Chris (my Savior!) Hilltop Community Church in Richmond, Rock Harbor Christian Fellowship, Grace Lutheran, Waypointe Church, my mom, family, God family, friends, Dr. Runco (who I had to stop going to due to lack of ability to get out to Concord and Doctor’s instructions), my Physical therapist (who is unnamed for the time being), and everyone who has ever encouraged me along the way… even just a a smile or a friendly handshake or hug can make a world of difference in someone’s life. I’m believing for amazing things. 2015 is the year of entering the promises… I FULLY believe that! Now, I’ll leave you all today with a list of BRAIN FOODS! GOD BLESS!!!!

~BRAIN FOODS~ Hyperlinks will lead you to various sites with more in-depth info

1.) Oatmeal and brown rice: both carry vitamin E and good carbohydrates to help keep your brain wheels turning and improve retention of information received at school, work, ect.

2.) Blueberries: according to research at Trufts University, consumption MAY help in improving or delaying short term memory loss.

3) Omega 3 fatty acids: these are contained in things like fish (salmon, sardines, cod, flounder), flaxseed, walnuts, even various sorts of squash (butternut), carry small amounts as well.

4.) Nuts: (especially walnuts) carry protein, vitamin E, and many other nutrients to keep you alert and focused!

5.) Veggies: things like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, ect carry antioxidants (ie: vitamin C) and carotenoids that protect the brain!

6.) Eggs: Rich in b vitamins, omega 3, and protein, and other essential nutrients that help aid the communication between brain cells.definitely one of my favorite power foods!

7.) Curry

8.) Avocados: Very high in monounsaturated fats that help stimulate the blood flow to your brain =)

9.)WATER WATER WATER!!!: While it’s not a food, I can’t stress this enough! people who study a lot rely waaay to much on caffeen and don’t realize that we need half our body weight in oz of water every day plus one glass of water per cup of coffee (or tea) consumed (due to the antioxidant content).

I hope all these things have or will be of use to you! Remember… we don’t know what tomorrow holds, so embrace today as if it were your last! GOD BLESS!!!