Food as Medicine

We are never too young to start a healthy diet. We definitely benefit from it as we age.
Almost two years ago, I decided to no longer eat meat. Partly due to health concerns, partly due to spiritual acknowledgements, and partly because I don’t hunt or raise animals for food. I have no idea how the meat sold in stores was processed, how the animals were treated.
I tried several times over the years to become vegetarian, but I never followed through because I was too used to cooking with meat. Trying to figure out what to eat that was vegetarian, that tasted good to me, that was within my cooking skill range, was a bit daunting. In the end, I would always go back to tuna casseroles and sloppy joes; smothered chicken breast; and breaded pork chops.
Once I made the commitment to “go vegetarian”, I made it my mission to make sure I was not only getting all the nutrients and protein I needed, but to find easy but tasty wholesome meals to make.

While going vegetarian isn’t for everyone, it never hurts to cut back on meat consumption and fill up on healthy vegetables, fruits, berries and nuts.
Luckily, we now have many tools at hand where we don’t have to purchase a whole vegetarian cookbook that has only a handful of recipes we like to eat. There are tons of free on-line recipe sites with plenty of options and lots of information on switching to a vegetarian diet.
One of my favorite places to go for recipes is Pinterest. I am going to share with you a recipe from GreenValleyKitchen.com that I found there that is easy and fast to make and was a hit with both me and my carnivore husband.
Along with being tasty, it’s very healthy. Let’s look at some of the ingredients and go over the health benefits:
*Asparagus is loaded with nutrients, helps to protect against and fight cancer, reduces inflammation in the body. It’s a brain booster and a natural diuretic.
*Walnuts help reduce bad cholesterol, improve metabolism, control diabetes, boost mood and have anti-inflammatory properties.
*Lemon aids in digestion, helps absorb Vitamin C, and boosts energy and mood.
*Parsley improves digestion, has anti-inflammatory properties, helps control cancer, diabetes and arthritis, and is a diuretic.

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Ravioli With Sautéed Asparagus and Walnuts
Ingredients
1 – 8 oz package of fresh ravioli – I used ravioli with spinach and cheese
½ pound of asparagus – snap off the tough ends – chop asparagus into thirds or smaller.
1 half lemon
2 tbs butter
¼ cup walnut pieces
2 tbs minced parsley
6 twists of pepper ( I honestly wasn’t sure what twist of pepper is, I just used a pepper grinder)
2 tbs grated parmesan, plus some to serve at the table.

Instructions
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
While waiting for the water to boil, chop your asparagus into thirds (snap off tough white ends and discard). Mince parsley, squeeze lemon, and measure out walnuts and butter.
In a large saucepan, melt 2 tbs of butter over medium heat until frothy. Add chopped asparagus to the pan, stir slightly to coat asparagus with butter and cover with the pan with a lid. The asparagus should be slightly damp when adding it to the pan. The pan should only be on medium heat so you don’t burn the butter or the asparagus. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes – depending on thickness of asparagus.
While asparagus is cooking, add ravioli to boiling water and cook as per the package instructions – my package said 4 minutes. Drain when done and add to a bowl.
When asparagus is done, remove asparagus with a slotted spoon. There will be some browned butter left in the bottom of the pan. Add asparagus to the bowl of ravioli.
Add lemon juice and 6 twists of black pepper to the pan with the remaining browned butter and bring to a boil and stir for 30 seconds. Pour the butter lemon sauce over cooked ravioli and asparagus. There will not be a lot of sauce – you just want enough to lightly coat the ravioli.
Add walnuts, parsley and 2 tbs parmesan cheese – toss gently to mix.

 

Served with a side salad, this really was a simple, wholesome meal.

Enjoy!

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Planting a Garden

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These past few days have found me perusing gardening books, seed catalogs, and articles with instructions to the perfect compost pile. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a vegetable garden, and I have never lived in Colorado until last fall, so the climate, the soil, are new to me. In Florida, my few attempts at container gardening were lost to bugs, heat, and vermin.
My butterfly garden thrived, however, and kept the birds and bees happy as well. But vegetables, well, it’s been over 22 years since I had a vegetable garden. So now the fun begins. My old butterfly garden sits in Florida surrounded by what remains of my old life there. The memories are beautiful, but now it is time to make new memories and sow new seeds. If the milkweed I planted in Florida fed the being of the Monarch butterfly, so did the people in my life feed my soul.

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Here in a new landscape, I will cultivate seeds in my gardens. The butterfly garden will be filled with such treats as milkweed, wisteria, purple haze, thyme, and petunias. Pollinators will thrive from the newly planted food source, clear of pesticides, and birds will gather to rest and feed. The vegetable garden will produce healthy, nutritious food for our household, and contribute to the birds, bees, and butterflies. The brilliant hues of flowers, leaves, herbs, will serenade our homestead- Nirvana Acres- in a symphony of color as the wildlife contributes to the artistry of our surroundings.
Pulling up roots, moving halfway across the country, and settling down anew parallels my current garden undertaking. After all, isn’t life basically about planting seeds, giving them nourishment, tending them carefully, and harvesting the fruit of our labors? Life, too, is like a garden. We decide what we will fill it with and who to fill it with. We cultivate our relationships, careers, and pastimes. Our bookshelves are filled with books that inspire us, intrigue us, entertain us. We might have collections to please the eye, or to declare what we love, what reminds us of a value. Pictures to harness memories. Favorite blankets to curl up under. We fill our lives with people who enrich us, enthrall us, are endearing to us. Souls that bring smiles to our faces, love in our hearts, laughter to even our darkest nights.

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It’s good sometimes, I think, to reflect on what we have planted in our life garden. Do we need to weed, to prune, to dig anything up? Should we water more or less, fertilize, rearrange? Is everything producing for us, or do some things need to go? And what would we like to have that we have yet to plant? Slowly, I am meeting people and making new friends. I tenderly plant them in my Beautiful People garden. Different shapes and sizes, they each contribute to this wonderful thing I call My Life. And eventually, I will share with them the food from my garden and the beauty of the flowers that will surround us.
As winter rolls on towards spring, my advice is to take time to find out the state of your garden and what you have planted there. Remember, you harvest tomorrow what you plant today.

 

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Creating a Map

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One of the key factors to living a better, happier, wiser life is health. If you don’t have your health, what do you have? Our health determines in a large way how our daily lives play out. Are we able to work? Can we live independently? Are we enjoying life, doing things we love? Or, are we living with pain and disease?

There are things we can do to protect our health. Most people are aware of what they should do, even if they don’t practice those ways. On the other hand, sometimes life deals us a hand that no matter how healthy a lifestyle we live, health struggles exist.

In either case, we need a game plan. A way of going about our lives, living the best possible life we can in any circumstance. That isn’t always easy. We might sometimes feel, if only there were a map to show us what to do, and how to do it, it would be so helpful.

Since we are each individuals, not everyone benefits from the same path. What works for me might not work for you, and vice versa. That’s why it is important to gather information, and piece together a map for our individual selves to follow.

This year, I am going to periodically include written interviews with different experts on how women can reach the answers they are seeking, plot out their maps, get new ideas, or even review old ideas.

I begin with Tatiana Thompson, a health coach who has her own business- Simply Grounded Health.

 

Sharyn: Tatiana, can you explain why you decided to become a Health Coach?

Tatiana: A​ ​few​ ​things​ ​converged​ ​to​ ​get​ ​me​ ​on​ ​this​ ​path: I’ve​ ​been​ ​a​ ​physical​ ​therapist​ ​for​ ​30​ ​years.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​practiced​ ​in​ ​a​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​settings,​ ​the last​ ​8​ ​years​ ​has​ ​been​ ​at​ ​my​ ​local​ ​hospital​ ​(Venice​ ​hospital).​ ​​ ​As​ ​you​ ​know,​ ​our population​ ​here​ ​is​ ​geriatric.​ ​Almost​ ​every​ ​patient​ ​I​ ​treated​ ​had​ ​a​ ​medical​ ​history​ ​that inevitably​ ​included​ ​heart​ ​disease​ ​and​ ​type​ ​2​ ​diabetes.​ ​​ ​Many​ ​patients​ ​were​ ​obese.​ ​All​ ​of these​ ​patients​ ​were​ ​limited​ ​in​ ​functional​ ​mobility​ ​(walking,​ ​moving,​ ​living). This​ ​became​ ​so​ ​frustrating​ ​to​ ​me,​ ​because​ ​heart​ ​disease​ ​and​ ​T2D​ ​is​ ​preventable​ ​and even​ ​reversible. And​ ​I​ ​found​ ​that​ ​I​ ​could​ ​only​ ​teach​ ​the​ ​patient​ ​only​ ​so​ ​much​ ​in​ ​the​ ​stressful​ ​environment of​ ​the​ ​hospital.​ ​​ ​I​ ​found​ ​opportunities​ ​to​ ​dialogue​ ​with​ ​the​ ​families-they​ ​are​ ​less​ ​stressed at​ ​being​ ​in​ ​the​ ​hospital,​ ​by​ ​definition. (See​ ​my​ ​website​ ​for​ ​more​ ​details​ ​about​ ​my​ ​path.)

Sharyn: Who are your clients?

Tatiana: I​ ​work​ ​with​ ​women​ ​who​ ​are​ ​ready​ ​to​ ​enjoy​ ​the​ ​fruits​ ​of​ ​the​ ​awesome​ ​life​ ​they​ ​have created​ ​so​ ​that​ ​they​ ​can​ ​attain​ ​their​ ​future​ ​goals​ ​and​ ​dreams​ ​with​ ​health​ ​and​ ​vigor.​ ​​ ​I help​ ​women​ ​who​ ​are​ ​suffering​ ​from​ ​low​ ​energy,​ ​struggling ​with​ ​weight​ ​and​ ​decreased movement,​ ​maybe​ ​even​ experiencing ​joint​ ​pains.​ ​​ ​​ ​Maybe​ ​they​ ​are​ ​concerned​ ​that​ ​their​ ​bodies​ ​won’t let​ ​them​ ​do​ ​the​ ​things​ ​that​ ​they​ ​have​ ​been​ ​dreaming​ ​of​ ​doing.
I​ ​offer​ ​a​ ​total​ ​body​ ​and​ ​energy​ ​transformation​ ​program.​ ​​ ​I​ ​help​ ​my​ ​clients​ ​attain sustainable​ ​habit​ ​changes​ ​so​ ​that​ ​they​ ​just​ ​do​ ​life,​ ​food,​ ​movement​ ​in​ ​a​ ​way​ ​that​ ​is​ ​best for​ ​their​ ​body​ ​type.
Regarding​ ​different​ ​foods:​ ​​ ​there​ ​are​ ​lots​ ​of​ ​fads​ ​out​ ​there.​ ​Lots​ ​of​ ​new​ ​spins​ ​on​ ​old knowledge.​ ​​ ​I​ ​believe​ ​that​ ​we​ ​each​ ​know​ ​what​ ​our​ ​body​ ​needs​ ​to​ ​be​ ​functioning​ ​at​ its best​ ​capacity.​ ​​ ​Our​ ​body​ ​is​ ​our​ ​best​ ​teacher​ ​and​ ​experimenter.​ ​​ ​Listen​ ​to​ ​your​ ​gut.

Sharyn: How has becoming a Health Coach changed you?

Tatiana: This​ ​journey​ ​has​ ​me​ ​living​ ​differently​ ​than​ ​before.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​a​ ​morning​ ​ritual​ ​of​ ​thinking, journaling,​ ​creating​ ​my​ ​day​ ​for​ ​success.​ ​​ ​Meditation​ ​happens​ ​infrequently,​ ​sadly.​ ​​ ​I include​ ​exercise​ ​almost​ ​daily;​ ​and​ ​I​ ​tailor​ ​it​ ​to​ ​my​ ​body​ ​age.​ ​​ ​I​ ​can’t​ ​run​ ​anymore because​ ​I​ ​know​ ​that​ ​will​ ​stress​ ​​my​ ​​spine.​ ​I​ ​walk​ ​briskly,​ ​I​ ​do​ ​yoga,​ ​I​ ​bike.​ ​​ ​I​ ​eat​ ​foods that​ ​give​ ​me​ ​energy.​ ​I​ ​try​ ​to​ ​avoid​ ​foods​ ​that​ ​rob​ ​me​ ​of​ ​energy,​ ​because​ ​that​ ​just​ ​isn’t acceptable​ ​anymore​ ​for​ ​me​ ​to​ ​feel​ ​shitty​​after​ ​eating​ ​a​ ​past​ ​meal,​ ​for​ ​example.​ ​So, that​ ​hits​ ​nourishment/movement/mindfulness. Each​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​choices​ ​are​ ​not​ ​difficult​ ​at​ ​all​ ​at​ ​this​ ​time.​ ​​ ​It​ ​is​ ​just​ ​how​ ​I​ ​do​ ​it​ ​now.

Sharyn: Do you work strictly with women?

Tatiana: I​ ​do​ ​advise​ ​men.​ ​​ ​Not​ ​children​ ​nor​ ​teens.

Sharyn: If you had to list one piece of advice that women can start doing today for a better tomorrow, what would that be?

Tatiana: The​ ​most​ ​important​ ​things​ ​that​ ​women​ ​can​ ​start​ ​doing​ ​now​ ​to​ ​make​ ​a​ ​positive​ ​change​ ​in their​ ​health: Follow​ ​your​ ​gut​ ​instinct​ ​about​ ​what​ ​foods​ ​rob​ ​you​ ​of​ ​energy​ ​or​ ​give​ ​you​ ​energy.​ ​​ ​And then​ ​MAKE​ ​THAT​ ​CHOICE​ ​that​ ​feeds​ ​your​ ​body​ ​best. You​ ​are​ ​never​ ​too​ ​old​ ​to​ ​improve​ ​your​ ​diet​ ​and​ ​movement​ ​and​ ​thinking​ ​habits. Drink lots of water.

 

If you feel you could benefit from Tatiana’s help, she is simply a phone call away. That’s right! You don’t even have to go to an office to speak with her and develop a plan. She can do it all over the phone. I am including her information so you can check out her webpage, her facebook page, and give her a call.

Tatiana​ ​Thompson, Simply​ ​Grounded​ ​Health
Website: Simplygoundedhealth.com
FaceB​ook Page: ​Simply​ ​Grounded​ ​Health
Email- tatiana@simplygroundedhealth.commaphealth

Trading My New Year for a New Day

Happy New Year’s-

Each December 31st, people eagerly wait for the clock to strike midnight so they can wipe the slate clean and begin anew- with new goals and aspirations. Letting go of the past year, they await the new year with all the excitement of a child waking up Christmas morning to a pile of presents beneath the tree.

Time is marching on and with the flip of the calendar year, we anticipate all the great things to come, great things we will accomplish. It’s a new beginning. Or is it?

Starting again each January is akin to repeatedly going back to the starting line of the race. How can you win, much less finish, when you keep going back to the beginning? And what happens to all those steps we took in the previous year? Don’t they count for anything?

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Here’s a thought. Why wait until January 1st to let go of bad habits, bad relationships, bad thoughts? Why do we need a new year to start new goals?

The key is to be here, now, in this moment. Want to eat better? Start today. Exercise more? No time like the present. Be more productive? Start producing.

be here now

When the clock strikes midnight and announces the New Year, take time to reflect on all that transpired the previous year. Also take time to reflect on the positive changes you have made throughout the year that you are still carrying forth into the new year. Wise Crones know yesterday is gone, tomorrow is never promised and today is here right now.

happy new year

Footprints on Our Soul

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It’s been said that some people cross our path for a lifetime, some for a season, some for a reason, and all leave footprints on our soul.
As we go through life, sooner or later we experience the loss of someone we love. A family member, a friend, a pet. The older we get, the longer the list becomes with the names of those who leave us as they journey to the next level of existence.
We, too, will be leaving here someday. It might be soon. It might be in the distant future. The question we should ask ourselves is, what footprints will we be leaving on the souls of our earthly companions?
A couple of weeks ago, I was unpacking boxes from our move to Colorado. I was focused on getting together my writing/ meditation room, setting up books, organizing my desk, hanging pictures, and placing various statues and gemstones. As I sat back and looked around me, I noticed so many items that had been gifted to me by my dear friend, Nancy. Even though we now lived miles, and states, apart- it felt as though she were there in the room with me. Her energy permeated the space in every direction, every corner.
The following morning, I excitedly grabbed my laptop, intending to email her my thoughts and feelings. That no matter the distance between us, we were close to each other in spirit, in heart, in soul. I could have called, but she was sick. She was in transition. She wasn’t up to speaking on the phone. I knew if I wrote, someone would read her the email.
I never wrote that email. Before I typed it out, I discovered she had left this earthly existence the previous night.

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There are no regrets that she didn’t get the email. We had spoken numerous times over the years about how important our friendship was. We were soul-sisters. Best friends. We verbally expressed to each other the importance of our cherished friendship. We both understood the footprints we left on each other’s soul were embedded with gold and lighted with the love of that friendship.
I have been blessed with many great relationships. Some long lasting, some short lived. I have also had relationships where people plodded heavily across my soul, leaving deep, uneven grooves I worked hard at smoothing over. There have been footprints of jealousy, rage, anger, manipulation. These I sweep away with care and concern. I prefer to run my hands lovingly over the footprints of love, joy, happiness. I tuck these away in a safe corner of my heart. And I wonder…
What footprints have I left? I would like to say they were all light and happy. But I know better. While I have left many loving, happy footprints, I know there were times I left behind dark, heavy prints. It saddens me. I want to do better. I want my footprints to be light on the souls of others. I want them to have meaning, substance. When my energy flows into someone’s space, I want it to bring uplifting light.

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It’s a goal, to be the best I can be. To practice love and compassion. To offer space for someone to just be.
I hope those who felt a heaviness from my steps can forgive me. I am a work in progress. Each day I strive to be better. Do better. Walk lightly. And I ask you, what footprints are you leaving?

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Gratitude

November arrived, ushering in the full brunt of fall, and bringing forth comments of what we are thankful for and how we plan on celebrating the day our nation sets aside to officially Give Thanks.

This got me to thinking on the many times a day, week, month, year, someone says “thank you” to me, or I to them. But how often do we really think on those words, “thank you”? Do we always mean it, or do we offer it as a remote reply as we hand the customer back their change, or someone picks up a quarter we dropped and hands it back to us?

We were taught as children to say “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome.”. Manners are important. But did anyone really teach us why we should be thankful?

Many times life will serve up opportunities by which when someone gives us a helping hand, we truly are thankful. We then may feel grateful someone was able and willing to help. Thankfulness then moves into Gratitude.

At the start and end of each day, if we take time to truly think about the things we are grateful for, the people whom we are grateful for, our hearts become lighter. It can be something as major as a lifesaving surgery, or as simple as seeing the rose bush bloom. Being grateful is telling the universe we happily receive that which is good in our lives and are open to receiving more. It also moves us to show our gratitude in ways that help our fellow beings on this planet, thereby making the world a happier, better place in which to live.

While November brings the official day of thanksgiving, it’s important to remember we have all year to show our gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving! And may we all be blessed with gratitude.

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Dem Bones, Dem Bones

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Halloween is right around the corner, and a cartoon of dancing skeletons brought to mind the perfect subject to write about- Bones.

As a child, I was told how important it was to drink milk and eat my fortified bread for strong bones.

In my twenties and thirties, I was often schooled by doctors, advertisers, female co-workers, and female friends on the importance of calcium supplement. You just couldn’t take enough calcium if you were a woman, I was told. Drink your milk, eat your yogurt and cheese, and take a daily calcium supplement to keep from having fragile old woman bones later in life!

I tried taking calcium supplements, but the chewable ones upset my stomach and the pill forms stuck in my throat. I decided I would just make sure I ate enough calcium rich foods and worry about osteoporosis when I got old. Devouring cottage cheese, butter, yogurt, milk, ice cream, I figured I had this calcium thing covered. No thought was given to my calcium leaching habits of drinking coffee and soda pop.

Turning the corner to 50, I asked myself, had I done enough to build up my bones?

Our bones are constantly being made over. New cells form, old cells die. By our mid-thirties, the rate of new bone cell growth slows down. Enter menopause, and new bone cells almost come to a complete stop. Therefore, it is important to build up our bone producing cells in the first half of life with calcium rich foods and weight bearing exercise.

It’s equally important to reduce calcium leaching foods such as soy milk, coffee, soda pop, tofu, white flour, and processed meats.

When menopause comes into play, many women choose to use hormone therapy replacement drugs. It’s an option I chose not to take, mainly because it increases your risk of breast cancer. I also try to follow the natural path with my body as much as possible. So, I focus on diet and exercise. HRT is a personal choice to be made by the individual after consulting with their doctors and research. I want to stress, I am not saying it is wrong, it just it isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t for me.

Regardless, every woman should follow a proper diet and exercise routine. Walking, weight-lifting, yoga, dance and jogging are all great weight bearing exercises. If you have physical issues that interfere with those types of workouts, check with a physical therapist to find out a routine you can do. And pick something you enjoy so it will easily become a part of your daily schedule.

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Women’s diets should include daily yogurt containing only milk and culture. Stay away from the added flavorings, sugars, color additives. You can easily mix berries, nuts, and honey to flavor your yogurt. Cooked greens and herbal infusions of red clover, nettle, or oat straw are also excellent choices.

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Still not sure how to make sure you are fulfilling your calcium needs? Visit a nutritionist. There are also many books and websites available to help you adjust your lifestyle to one that lovingly takes care of your bones.

I am including a recipe from the Susan S. Weed book, New Menopausal Years, The Wise Woman Way.

Just as it’s important for us to build up our bone producing cells the first half of life, it’s equally important to reduce calcium leaching foods in the second half of life.

Bonny Boney Brew

Nettle  1 oz, dry
Horsetail  1 tbsp, dry
Sage  1 tbsp, dry

Crush sage between palms and drop into a quart container with the other two herbs. Fill jar with water just off the boil. Cap tightly and allow to brew for at least four hours, though you may allow it to brew overnight. Strain; drink as is or heat and add honey. I like to add ice and drink it cold. You can substitute red clover, oat straw, or raspberry for the nettle.

Each cup contains same amount of calcium as a cup of milk.

Balanced Crones Chop Wood and Carry Water. Some Plant Butterfly Gardens

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We have all been there. That place of overwhelmed, over anxious, over worried, over stressed. There are times when it all piles on at once, leaving us in complete distress. As women, we often bring much of this on ourselves. We often take on the problems and worries of spouses, children, friends, co-workers. We want to help. We want to nurture. And we are super women, right? We can do it all and still have time to do more.

News Flash-  we aren’t super women, just women who do their best. We are, after all, only human. And sometimes we reach the breaking point.

I had reached that point in my life some years back. It was as though everything of importance in my life was out of control. The burden of stress became too heavy to carry. I slipped into depression and went into zombie mode, going through the motions of daily life without fully being attached to it. I would rise, go to work, come home, and plant myself on the couch, curled up under the heavy blanket of sadness.

But I couldn’t own up to it. After all, I was a mom, I was a wife, I was a business owner. I had to have it all together, didn’t I? And it wasn’t as though it was some clinical depression brought on by imbalance of chemicals in my brain. It was certain issues in life that were sad, scary, and spinning out of control that had me feeling so defenseless, so beaten down.

I wouldn’t bring any of this up to family and friends. It was my problem to be dealt with, not theirs. Wasn’t I a spiritual person? Didn’t I meditate? Perhaps I hadn’t in awhile. I knew about life, and love. I knew about my perceptions of God. Why wasn’t any of this helping?

I laid on the couch frequently, not wanting to clean, cook, read. I rolled up in grief, soaking in my sadness, feeling as though I was sliding down a slippery slope and unable to find anything to grab onto. And I didn’t sleep. Sleep brought on nightmares.

One day, a good friend whom I hadn’t seen in awhile, took one look at me and said, “What’s going on? You look like shit. You look like you’ve been dragged through the mud and stomped on.”

I was taken aback, not because she said I looked like shit, but because she knew that something wasn’t right. She saw right through my facade. So much for my acting abilities.

As I explained my situation, she gave me some solid advice. I needed to bring myself back into balance. I could not possibly help anyone until I helped myself. She suggested yoga. She suggested getting back to meditation. Nothing was going to get better, she said, until I got up and made it so. Balance. I was off balance.

I went home and thought on what she said. I had tried to meditate but my anxiety wouldn’t allow it. I had picked up the bible and looked for some verse that would shed light. Lord knows, I prayed. And then I picked up my book about Buddhism. I hadn’t really read much of it. I decided since nothing else was doing the trick, might as well try this.

In those pages, I discovered what I needed. Chop wood, carry water.

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No, I didn’t go out with an axe and chop down trees followed by fetching water from a stream.

Chop wood, carry water refers to putting your focus fully on the task at hand. If you’re washing dishes, concentrate fully on that task, getting the water temperature right, adding soap, picking up the plate, scrubbing, rinsing, placing on the dish mat. Once all is washed, concentrate on the drying. The towel texture. The wet becoming dry.

As you concentrate fully on the matter at hand, there is no wandering of the mind to current worries and struggles. Doing dishes, there is only dishes. Folding laundry, there is only laundry. But enough about household chores!

My way to chop wood and carry water was to plant a butterfly garden. I decided it would be nice to have some butterflies flittering around, spreading their beauty and joy. Yes, a butterfly garden. I researched species of butterflies common to my area, and the plants they fed on, laid eggs on. I went into the yard, found a perfect spot by the fence, and dug my garden. By hand.

Each rip of grass and weed from the dirt was a symbol of ripping out the pain and hurt from my soul. Finally, I was ready for the planting. I planted milkweed, sun daisies, pentas, butterfly bushes, along with parsley, basil, and rosemary. I stuck in a small bird bath and some decorative rocks. Each thing I planted and posed in the garden brought light into my heart. I was rebuilding my soul, one plant at a time.

Then came the butterflies. Monarchs, Zebra Longwings, Swallowtails, Queens. And after them, the caterpillars. Cute, small, pretty little creatures, munching away happily, oblivious to any of the dangers around them.

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The swallowtails quickly ate through the parsley, and my husband and I did more than one emergency run to get more. Same with the monarchs on the milkweed. The garden was a daily duty, and dependent on me to keep it from going rogue, from dying out.

I couldn’t control everything happening in the world around me, or to the people I loved and cared about. But I could control this butterfly garden. I could keep it thriving and growing into a wonderment and a sanctuary for butterflies, bees, and a variety of animals.

Then, something marvelous happened. I awoke one day and realized that  I felt better. I was smiling. I was happy. While the butterflies thrived, so did I. I had made the world a better place, if only in one small corner of my yard.

My meditation times started becoming more frequent. I began yoga again. My couch grew cold and lonely. I was in the sun. I had found my wood and water. There was a peace in my heart. I could talk to God again.

There are times when people need to seek counseling for their depression. I would never suggest anyone try to deal with it alone, or stop taking any meds they may be taking without speaking to their doctor.

But for most people, I think, if we just learn to chop wood and carry water, we can find purpose. We can find balance. And in finding balance, we can bring balance to others.

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Cutting Corn

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If we are lucky, we get to walk through all phases of living- childhood, young adult, middle age, old age.

As we age, we can either lay in despair, or embrace our maturity. The happier, healthier choice is to embrace our maturity. This is done by moving forward into our new, older, wiser self, and letting go of our past, younger self. One of the better ways to do this is to follow an old native American adage- Cut Corn

Wait, what? Cut corn?

Yes. There is a saying, “What doesn’t grow for you, cut.” Even if something grew for you before, if it no longer serves a positive purpose for you, it needs to go.

This includes people, places, things, jobs, clutter, habits.

My suggestion? Get a nice, hot cup of coffee or tea, iced drink, whatever helps you to relax. Sit down, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Get in touch with how you feel. Are you happy? Worried? Stressed? Motivated? Energized? Tired? Do you feel anger, fear, joy, content? Are your relationships working how you want them to? Do you get satisfaction from your job? Are you living where you want?

Something happens to many of us when we approach the age of fifty. We find that we are no longer willing to deal with drama. We no longer are pulled to the rat race, instead seeking a softer approach, a comfortable path, surrounded by people who support us, share our vision, bring us laughter and light.

Some things we can change. Quit a job we no longer care for and move on to a new career. Or maybe retire and fire up our desire for painting, cooking, travel. Let go of friendships that have died out, habits that make us feel bad, clutter that buries our energy.

We can’t always change things which don’t add to our well-being. Maybe you want to live by the ocean but can’t afford to move out of the city. Or you want to quit your job, but you need the money. You can still make positive changes to reflect that which would serve you, and lessen what does not. Change that which you can- quit smoking, drop that toxic friend, add walks to your morning. Take trips to the aquarium, plan a vacation by the ocean, see where else your skills might place you to work.

Take small steps in cutting corn and planting new sustainable sources for daily living. You’ve earned it.

croneccor

Syncing With the Seasons

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Earth, this magnificent blue and green planet, exists within the universe on a system of checks and balances. From a distance, it is a beautiful ball twirling around the sun as it floats through space in its never-ending dance with the moon. Up close, it is teeming with life and elemental pleasures, all woven within the tapestry of Mother Nature’s creation.
Above and beyond all else, we are earthly beings. Indeed, while we are made of stardust, it’s earth where we draw our breath, and earth by which we live our lives. When we align ourselves with nature, we achieve a more balanced way of being. The more balanced our living, the better that life becomes.

One way to merge our life with nature is to live in sync with the seasons. If you become aware of the outdoors throughout the year, you will notice how all of nature shifts according to the seasons. Humans, too, lived in sync with the seasons for centuries, only recently moving away from the natural cycles. This is due to all of our modern-day inventions. We can control the climate of our homes and businesses with air conditioning and heating. We have artificial lighting, and we transport out of season produce into our stores, ensuring bananas and berries are available year around!

The result is, our bodies are no longer attuned to the seasons as they once were. Our earthly bodies are becoming trapped in our artificial world. This is one of the steps towards ill health and disease.

If you don’t already, I invite you to sync with the seasons. Fall is coming on the 22nd of September, and fall is my favorite season! The days become shorter and cooler, the leaves turn into beautiful living works of art, and an invigorating crispness forms in the air.

Fall is for gathering what is needed to face oncoming winter. Pantries need to be checked for expired food items and restocked for the coming months. Blankets can be pulled from their storage for easy access during the cooler nights. Summer items can be put away, and a fall atmosphere introduced to the home with scents and scenery.

The end of summer brings with it damage done to skin and hair by summer sun, pools, and salty ocean waters. Perhaps we over-indulged in foods such as burgers, hot dogs, chips, sodas and cocktails more than fresh fruits, vegetable, water and teas.

Fall is an optimum time for nourishing the body and building up the immune system.  When I owned a spa, we would add to our service menu various selections to help prepare the body for winter. Many of these can be done right at home!

Start with a homemade body scrub to exfoliate, brighten and soften your skin. These are easily made with products you most likely have at home.

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Coffee Scrub-  mix a half cup of used coffee grounds with half cup of oil. Check the consistency and add more grounds, or oil, as needed for your liking. I prefer either grapeseed, coconut, olive or almond oil. In the shower, simply scrub yourself all over with the mixture and rinse off. Coffee scrubs are very invigorating and have a refreshing smell.

Sugar Scrub- mix up the same way you did the coffee scrub. You can add essential oils depending on what you prefer. Some examples are lavender oil for relaxing, grapefruit for alertness, ginger for warming.

After a nice scrub and shower, before you towel off, massage into your skin some soothing coconut oil. Or, again, whatever oil you prefer. Pat dry with the towel, and your skin should be soft and glowing!

Next, have a sit with a healthy detox, immune building tea. You can buy already made bags of tea, or go to your herb garden or natural food store and buy the flowers and/or leaves for a fresher, healthier tea. The following are some different teas to try for your fall immunity building.

*Please note – you should always check with your doctor before trying new herbs if you are on medications.

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Echinacea –  using flowers, leaves, roots. This herb is wonderful to have on hand year around as it not only helps recovery from colds and flu, it can help prevent them with its immune boosting ability.

Lemon Balm – using leaves. Lemon balm is in the mint family, though it has a lemony taste. It strengthens your immune system while relaxing the mind.

Lavender – using the flower buds. Lavender tea is well-known for its calming effect. Did you know lavender also supports the immune system? If you make a lavender tea, a little will do it. Lavender can become overbearing when too strong. However, you can add it to any other tea blend as a boost and flavor enhancer.

Ginger – using root shavings. Ginger is warming and if too strong for your taste, add a little honey. Ginger will help your body fight colds, flu, and boost the immune system.

Incorporate fall-foods into your diet. Not sure what’s in season? Visit the local farmers market. Not only will you get in-season vegetables but you will get fresh, locally grown food! These fall foods include apples, arugula, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, fennel, garlic, horseradish, okra, onions, pumpkins, radishes, spinach, sweet potatoes, turnips, wild mushrooms, and zucchini.

Eating foods in season means eating foods that are fresh and have properties that will help the body adjust to the season. For example, apples are picked in the fall. Apples are cooling and help the body cool down from summer heat and activity, plus they are excellent for the digestive system, and a healthy digestive system is a must for maintaining health and vitality.

If you have any favorite fall time recipes or traditions you would like to share, I would love to hear them!