Relax and Reduce Stress Right Now

You can calm down and relax anytime, anywhere.  In this short video, Dr. Dean Ornish, who wrote Reversing Heart Disease, shows us how we can reduce our stress level in less than 3 minutes, wherever we are:  Inner Balance

 

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Intention

I just love this video,which is well worth taking 5 minutes to watch.  It is a reminder to set a positive intention each day.    My intention is to see each day as a gift.  What’s yours?

Awakening, a lovely poem by John McLeod.

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Fennel and Orange Salad

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I love this quick and easy salad.  I eat it to get back to my normally healthy diet the week after a holiday, like Christmas and Easter,  when I tend to eat too many sweets.  Fennel is a funny looking herb available in the produce section of most grocery stores.  It has a sweet taste reminiscent of licorice.   Fennel is rich in Vitamin C, Calcium, Phosphorous, and Folate, all of which are lacking in the average American diet.

Fennel and Orange Salad

  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 2 Clementines or one large navel orange
  • 1 TBSP parsley flakes
  • 1 TBSP olive oil

Cut off the green top of the fennel and slice the white bulb.   Peel the oranges and place in bowl.  Drizzle olive oil over it and sprinkle with parsley flakes.  Mix well.

Best when eaten fresh, but you can refrigerate for up to 4 days.

 

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Why is it so hard to be mindful?

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”                                                                                                                                  – Dorothy Parker

This is one of my favorite quotes, and I found it in this article on Paying Attention in the Huffington Post by Dr. Judson Brewer, where he writes, “This is what mindfulness practice is all about: dropping our preconceived notions or judgments of how something “always” is, and being curious about what is actually happening right now.”

When we are curious, we focus entirely on the task at hand, whether it is watching a movie, reading a book.  We have all been in situations like this where we lose ourselves and then  come back to reality.

I am curious by nature , so when I first heard the word “mindfulness”, I immediately began to look into it.  I wondered what it would be like to simply focus on my breath.  Like when I tried acupuncture, I took it with a grain of salt.  It did not make sense to me but I was curious to see what would happen.  Would it help me?   I was shocked when it worked so well and so quickly.  Mindfulness is a  process and it takes diligence to fully reap the benefits.  I am still reminding myself to be mindful while going about my day, but I know that as a result of practicing mindfulness I am calmer and have more compassion for myself and those around me.

 

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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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