Choose to Love Yourself

All of the religions and ancient wisdom traditions teach us to love.  Indeed, all of them have some version of the Golden Rule in their sacred texts, reminding us to treat others as we want to be treated.  We often forget to apply this to ourselves.

What if you were to consider yourself as your own best friend?  Think of how you speak to your closest friends.  Do you support them, or do you tell them they missed the boat?  You support them, of course!  Why not support yourself?  I often have days when I feel like a loser – like my best days are behind me.  On these days, I go to a scrapbook I made.  In this book are many cards and notes from my closest friends, reminding me that I am special  them, even though I am not feeling at all that way at the moment.

I love how Anne Lamott put it in her book, Bird by Bird, a delightful book on writing that also applies to living.  She talks about the radio station that prevents her from writing – WFKD.   This station broadcasts in our heads, a result of a life time of criticism, judgement, and grading from those around us.  Most people have our best interests at heart, but may have been a bit harsh and hurt us without realizing it, or perhaps it was due to their own inherent weakness of character.  They may not know any better, because this is how they were always treated.  Or maybe they simply had a bad day and regretted their behavior later.  Sometimes we take things the wrong way when we are having an off-day.

When my mind broadcasts on this frequency, I make it a point to write 5 things for which I am thankful in my gratitude journal, which I began after reading Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance.  Then I take note of the negative things I say to myself and write down why they aren’t true.  Perception is relative – every negative label can also be a positive label.  For example, stubborn is also persistent, meek is also humble, bossy is also confident, all depending on how you look at it.  So I put a positive spin on my negative thoughts.

What station are you listening to?  WLUV or WFKD?  The choice is all yours.

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Food Storage Tips

It seems I am seeing a lot of products to place in your produce drawer or to put produce in to make it stay fresh for a longer period of time.  Being thrifty by nature  (OK, I am cheap –  ;) – so blame it on my genes) I have always had a problem tossing the last few shriveled up mushrooms into the trash.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN published a report in 2011 on food waste, and it is no surprise that fruits and vegetables top the list.  Indeed, I found many statistics regarding waste and did my own informal average of the reputable ones.   I came up with 17% waste – we literally toss on the average 17% of the food we buy.  The average cost per American household came to $750.00.

One day it actually occurred to me to google it – I came up with this list of tips:

  • Never store in air tight containers – they need air to breathe, like us.
  • It is best to store unwashed until use.  If you must wash produce ahead of time, store with a paper towel
  • Wrap celery in aluminum foil with a paper towel to absorb moisture
  • Store blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries in a single layer, if possible.  Second best is in a container with a colander built in that does not close too tightly.
  • Store leafy greens separately
  • Apples, bananas, and tomatoes do not need to be refrigerated if eaten within 7 days.
  • Place mushrooms in a brown paper bag on a shelf in your refrigerator – the bag will absorb moisture.  Dried mushrooms can be rejuvenated if soaked in water, or added to sauces.
  • Fruit that releases ethylene gas must be stored separately:
    • apples
    • apricots
    • cantaloupe
    • honeydew
    • figs
  • When in doubt, think of how it is stored at the grocery store, and do the same at home.
  • Shop the produce section last and keep produce at as low a temperature as possible
  • Eat all the perishables within one week of purchase

And speaking of bananas, do you know how to open a banana like the monkeys do?   You hold it upside down and squeeze the very bottom.  No struggles.  It pops open so easily that even I can do it!

 

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Seed of Truth: You Do Not Have To Live Any Story But Your Own

Betti:

Think about your story, remembering that you are the hero.

Originally posted on Sowing The Soul:

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We are all living a story.

Here is a story many people are currently trying to live (myself included): (1) go to college, (2) develop a marketable career, (3) obtain a stable income for you and yours, (4) live the rest of your life in security.

My story before I “enrolled” in the one above was the following: (1) get through today, (2) get through tomorrow, (3) get through the day after tomorrow, (4) . . . .

The first story is a standard, cookie-cutter story that has emerged in our society. The second story was generated by the disease that is depression.

The problem: I did not freely choose either story. I sort of “fell” into both. In doing so, I relinquished my oh-so-precious existential freedom.

To plant a seed of truth in your soul, take a few moments to remind yourself that you do not have to live any story but…

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The Importance of pH

The average American diet is acidic.  We do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, and we eat a lot of meat.  Not good, considering the fact that an overly acidic diet depletes the minerals in the body, causing our tissues to degrade to a lower quality.  Greater acidity in the body has been linked to increased body fat, kidney stones, migraines, osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass, and cardiovascular disease.  Many people develop severe chest pain which mimics a heart attack.

In the human body, a pH of 7 is neutral.  Over 7 is alkaline, and under 7 is acidic.  You can easily measure the acid in your system by purchasing pH test strips at health food stores and online.  Make sure you search under health and personal care, or you come up with product which test your house and swimming pool pH levels.

Even though I personally have eaten a very balanced diet over the past 20 years, I still tend to register on the acidic side.  Apparently, I end up with a build up of acid in my system, and since I have muscular dystrophy, I need to take an  antacid that is not calcium based.  I always look at my diet first, since it is the easiest way to control my own health.  Now, 2 years after learning about acid in my diet, I can tell when I need to take an antacid.  My energy level is low, I feel tired even when I get plenty of sleep, I have pains where my gall bladder used to be.  Which makes me wonder if it caused gall stones.  My doctor did not believe me when I said I did not eat a lot of fat, which is usually the cause of gall stones.  (I switched to a woman doctor soon after that and she believed me)  They have since found that one of the causes of muscular dystrophy is the body’s inability to properly metabolize fat.

Here is a link to my favorite chart for checking out my own diet – from Essence-of-Life.com.

I also like The AAA Diet which has all kinds of information about combining foods and lots of recipes.

pH stands for the power of hydrogen.  The H is a capitol to indicate that it is an element.  In chemistry, pH is the negative log of hydrogen ion concentration in a water-based solution.  The pH scale is a logarithmic scale ranging from 1 – 14.

 

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Metta Meditation

My life changed for the better when I began meditating.  My favorite meditation on the days when I have trouble letting go of my thoughts is the Metta Meditation.  Also called loving kindness meditation, this mantra focuses our minds on compassion for ourselves and others.  You can vary the phrasing to suit yourself.

This is what works for me.  First I get still.  I take a deep breath, pulling my shoulders up to my ears.  Then, as I exhale, I let out a loud sigh, dropping my shoulders and relaxing.  Then I take another deep breath, and relax as I exhale.

Next, I breath naturally, focusing on my breath but not forcing it.  I continue this for a few breaths until I feel relaxed and still.  With my next 4 breaths, on each exhale, I repeat the following phrases one per exhale:

May I be safe.  May I be well.  May I be content.  May I be peaceful and at ease.

Next, I think of someone in particular or humanity in general, and on the next 4 exhales, repeat one of the following:

May you be safe.  May you be well.  May you be content.  May you be peaceful and at ease.

Barbara Frederickson, the noted psychologist, in her Open Heart study, found that her variation of this same mantra was proven to be effective in inducing positive emotions.  Once you begin feeling more positive emotions, it spirals, and you become more resilient.  For more on this subject, check out her book:  Positivity

To learn more about Metta Meditation, check out the Metta Institute.

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Healthy Popcorn Perfectly Popped

Several years ago when my cholesterol went up and I learned that Monsanto had genetically modified corn, I tossed my electric popcorn popper .  The scientists had the best of intentions – they succeeded in making corn disease resistant and as a result gave a lot of people around the world food that they may not have had otherwise – but many people, like me, are sensitive to additives and GMOs.

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A few months ago I discovered organic popcorn at the grocery store.  I was delighted and immediately put it into the cart.  On the way home I was wondering how I was going to pop it, since I no longer had a popcorn popper.  I searched for recipes and found a great one.  Unfortunately, I had to play around and adjust the heat.  I either heated the oil too much or not enough.  And coconut oil in solid form is a pain to measure, when you have to watch your intake of saturated fats.  I found fractionated coconut oil, which stays liquid.  I use coconut oil because it does not break down at high temperatures and it has little or no effect on cholesterol levels in the blood.  Organic corn is better quality corn and most, if not all, of the kernels pop.

I use a big stock pot with little vent holes at the top.

Here is my recipe:

  •       3 TBSP fractionated coconut oil
  •       1/3 cup organic popcorn

Heat the oil with 3 kernels in it on medium heat a little on the high side.  On my electric stove, I put the knob between 4 and 5 o’clock.  I guess for digital people, I should say 23 minutes into the hour?

When they pop, if they burn, you know to lower the heat a bit.  Remove the pot from the heat, add all the kernels, cover, and wait 30 seconds.  I count  – one thousand, two thousand, up to 30.

Place the pot back on the burner and wait.  Soon the kernels will begin to pop.  Give the pot a shake every so often.  When the popping slows down, remove it from the heat.  Keep the lid on until all the popping stops.

Top with your favorite herbs, spices, or chocolate.  I splurge and melt a tablespoon of butter with just a little salt.

I was so psyched to finally get it right.  I thought I was in heaven.  Until I noticed a puddle of water on the floor.  The pipe under the kitchen sink sprung a major leak.  So thankful I did not slip and fall.  Especially since I can’t get up!  Looking on the bright side, my husband is always happy to stop for cheese steaks on his way home!   The benefit of living outside of Philly, where the best cheese steaks are sold.

 

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Meditation and Prayer – Together

I knew I was different at an early age.  I remember a weekend retreat I went on with the Pioneer Girls, the religious equivalent of the Girl Scouts.  Sunday services were held outside.  I absolutely loved it.  As  a child I loved nature and always found peace and comfort outdoors.  I hated being forced to sit through Sunday school and then church.  To me, God was more evident in nature than in the circle we sat in for Sunday school or the congregation of a church.   I was not until I read The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer that I understood that I did not think like most people – I feel compelled to search for the spiritual, for my true self, and for a Truth that did not change with the times.

Back in the 1970’s, Zen and Transcendental Meditation were new concepts to me.  I thought only prayer was the answer.  Come to find that prayer and meditation are not mutually exclusive.  Jesus said, “Ask, and you shall receive, seek, and ye shall find, knock, and the door shall be opened to you.”   This, I found out after reading Rob Bell’s book, What We talk About When We Talk About God,  in Greek actually meant – keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking.  To me that did not mean going to church – it meant living a Christian life on a daily basis, not just on Sunday and when you are saying your prayers.  At the time I did not have a word for it, but now I know I was searching for the concept of mindfulness.  When I was in the woods or on the beach mesmerized by the ocean – that is where I felt God.  Nature reminded me to live a life of love and forgiveness, and to be mindful of the world that exists beyond our senses.

Now that I meditate daily, I use prayer as well.  On some days  when I get caught up in the drama of other people and in the stresses of life in general, it is harder to stop the thoughts from taking over my mind, or even to take the time to just be still.  On those days I pray for help clearing my mind so that I can meditate and hear what Spirit /God has to tell me.

 

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