Monthly Archives: February 2014

It is your job to remember the divine mystery! This image from NASA's WISE telescope

Love, From the Divine Mystery

It can be so easy to lose sight of the wonder that we are surrounded by each day, the divine mystery as I call it, when we are also surrounded by piles of paper, bills, to-do lists and frustrating situations. I find myself sometimes overlooking the incredible gifts that have been given to me, and I so often see my clients doing the same thing. In fact, many will give me variations of this sentence: I have a great partner, relatively speaking we’re comfortable and our lives our easy. I don’t know why I feel so sad/lonely/anxious/frightened.

The Divine Mystery. A 300-year-old supernova remnant created by the explosion of a massive star. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/CXC/SAO

The Divine Mystery. A 300-year-old supernova remnant created by the explosion of a massive star. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/CXC/SAO

Somewhere in our human brains it seems we are hardwired to love misery, or at least to be so habituated to it that we seek it out as a familiar place.  There are so many ways to counteract that tendency, but it requires active participation on your part. You have to notice when you don’t feel good and actually find the things that bring you joy, solace, peace, wonder and gratitude.  One of those things, for me, is the reminder about just how amazing and awe-inspiring the gifts we have been given truly are – how generous the divine mystery really is.  I stumbled across this quote from Rob Brezsny’s book Pronoia: the Antidote for Paranoia. Something about it genuinely resonates with me – helps me to see how much I have truly received in my life – I hope it does the same for you.




Love, from the Divine Mystery (via Rob Breszny)

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN LOVED?

Have you ever been loved? I bet you have been loved so much and so
deeply that you have become nonchalant about the enormity of the grace
it confers.

So let me remind you: To be loved is a privilege and prize equivalent to
being born. If you’re smart, you pause regularly to bask in the astonishing
knowledge that there are many people out there who care for you and
want you to thrive and hold you in their thoughts with fondness.

Animals, too: You have been the recipient of their boundless affection.
The spirits of allies who’ve left this world continue to send their tender
regards, as well.

Do you “believe” in angels and other divine beings? Whether or not you
do, I can assure you that there are hordes of them beaming their uncanny
consecrations your way. You are awash in torrents of love.

As tremendous a gift it is to get love, giving love is an equal boon. Many
scientific studies demonstrate that whenever you bestow blessings on
other people, you bless yourself. Expressing practical compassion not only
strengthens your immune system and bolsters your health, but also
promotes self-esteem, enhances longevity, and stimulates tranquility and
even euphoria.

As the scientists say, we humans are hardwired to benefit from altruism.

What’s your position on making love? Do you regard it as one of the nicer
fringe benefits of being alive? Or are you more inclined to see it as a
central proof of the primal magnanimity of the universe? I’m more aligned
with the latter view.

Imagine yourself in the fluidic blaze of that intimate spectacle right now.
Savor the fantasy of entwining bodies and hearts and minds with an
appealing partner who has the power to enchant you. What better way do
you know of to dwell in sacred space while immersed in your body’s
delight? To commune with the Divine Wow while having fun? To tap into
your own deeper knowing while at the same time gazing into the
mysterious light of a fellow creature?

Are you astounded yet? All of this beauty, from the divine mystery. Served up just for you to enjoy. The Cat's Eye Nebula Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/STScI Are you astounded yet? All of this beauty, from the divine mystery. Served up just for you to enjoy. The Cat’s Eye Nebula Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: NASA/STScI

Happiness  (and gratitude – remember how linked those two things are?) is an active process – you can tap back into those feelings on purpose. You have the power, at any moment to choose to dive into the divine mystery; into wonder and out of boredom, fear, anxiety or sadness. The hardest part is remembering that you have a choice. That can be one of the hardest things in the world when you feel like you’re at the bottom of a well, trapped in the darkness all alone.  This is where your own toolbox of helpful things comes in – your joy list, and your techniques that help you to get outside of your head for a little bit. So let’s add a new technique to that list:

ThIngs I Received Without Having to Be Worth It:

I know that sounds a little odd, but stop to think about it for a second. I feel like when we’re overlooking the wonder in our lives we forget how much the universe actually doles out to us without any effort on our part. We feel like nobody cares or it’s all so hard or that we don’t have enough.  It’s time to change that.  Every night before bed, or every time you feel your mood starting to nose-dive, write down at least three things that you have received from the universe today that were truly precious that have nothing to do with you earning them. Three random gifts from the divine mystery.

Can’t think of any? Try these examples: Sunshine on your face – the sun shines on you whether you’ve done anything to earn it or not. It’s like a gift. Smiles from strangers, boundless love from your animals, dogs you meet on the street, birds singing in the trees. Moon light, the yellow happiness of dandelions, edible weeds growing on your lawn, the smell of coffee, the sound of rain, air in your lungs. You have a heart that beats without you having to think about it. Your body goes through the mysterious process of sleep. You can dream and imagine and create. Your brain can perceive or create colors. Your body grew, on it’s own without any direction from you, out of a sperm and egg. If that isn’t evidence of the miraculous I don’t know what is. The divine mystery is generous with you constantly. It’s your job to remember.

It is your job to remember the divine mystery! This image from NASA's WISE telescope

It is your job to remember the divine mystery! This image from NASA’s WISE telescope



Eat From The Earth: Foraging for Your Food

I am a big fan of plants and herbs, a big fan of the outdoors and a big fan of food – so let’s face it – foraging is pretty much my favorite thing.  Why you might ask? Why would I forage for food when there are so many shiny, waxed fruits and veggies at the supermarket? It’s a fair question.

Here is why I’m passionate about foraging for my food and why I think you might be too:

  1. Supermarkets are boring: Everyone agrees we’re supposed to eat lots of fruits and veggies every day. And many of us try to do that, but here’s the problem – we end up eating the same 5 – 10 kinds of fruits and veggies almost every day. Frankly, that can be more than a little boring.  I can’t be the only person who has gone to the grocery store and walked down the same aisle thinking “organic kale, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, bananas, apples, parsley, ginger, peppers. Yep – same as last week.” It’s not that there aren’t some exciting and wonderful foods out there, it’s that they’re hard to grow on a large scale, hard to transport, and hard to sell because plenty of people haven’t heard of them. Shake your diet up a bit and start to forage – this is the planet’s gift to those of us savvy enough to enjoy it!

    The uniformity of grocery store tomatoes. Try foraging! © Jamie Wilson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

    The uniformity of grocery store tomatoes. Try foraging! © Jamie Wilson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

  2. Foraging is the perfect excuse to be outside: I *love* being outside, but there are only so many walks around the neighborhood, trips to the springs and hikes I can take in a week before I’m looking for something else – why not bring a field-guide and gather some food too?
  3. Foraged food is sacred food: There is something so magical about being connected to the earth, and connected to the place your food comes from.  This can be as simple as farmers market and visiting local farms, or it can be a little bit deeper and more vital than that.  Foraging – finding food in your natural environment – gives you a profound sense of just how much you are supported by the earth, by creation, by the divine mystery at all moments.  It is literally finding nourishment everywhere. Think about that for a moment because it is truly a profound idea to find nourishment all around you. This is a tangible gift to you for no reason at all – only because you are alive and have the eyes to see it.
  4. Foraged food is the best for nutritarians: Remember the nutritarian idea? It’s the notion that you choose the most nutritionally dense foods possible at all times.  Herbs, weeds, the plants that have difficult environments and survive because they are sturdy are generally the most nutrient dense plants out there and your body will thank you for the introduction to them.
  5. Your taste buds need some excitement: I’m just guessing here, but you probably know what spinach tastes like.  And green beans, and carrots and maybe even rutabagas. But you may not know what cleavers taste like, or the tart little pods that grow on some native clovers, or dandelion blossoms, or rose petals or juniper berries. These fresh, unique flavors can give you a whole different experience in your salad. They can enliven your dinner, your cocktails, your day.  Why be dull?
  6. You want to survive the zombie apocalypse: Well, don’t we all really. 🙂 Might as well build those survival skills now while there’s nary a zombie in sight.




Food Foraging Tips:

  1. Positive identification is key: When you’re first starting with foraging and just getting into it, be sure to choose foods that only look like themselves and can’t be mistaken for something else.  As your experience level grows and you get more used to looking at plants in detail then you can start in on the little more difficult foods.
  2. Expect the Unexpected: We are so used to the flavors that we are used to – it’s easy to forget that there is an infinite variety of taste experiences out there. Just because it’s green and leafy doesn’t mean it tastes like lettuce.  Likewise, just because it has a totally different flavor than you’re used to doesn’t mean it isn’t great food – you just have to begin to create space for it in your mouth.
  3. Start with Yard Food: Yard food is exactly what it sounds like – food foraged from your yard.  Why? Well, it’s pretty convenient for one, and there’s the added bonus that almost everyone knows what a dandelion looks like. Yard food is familiar food.

    Yard food! Gorgeous, sunny dandelion. © Ichtor | Dreamstime Stock Photos

    Yard food! Gorgeous, sunny dandelion. © Ichtor | Dreamstime Stock Photos

  4. Prepare to be Fascinated: If you’re anything like me, you’ll find an interesting clump of plants (usually in a place where lawn is supposed to be growing) that you recognize.  Right next to that interesting clump, there will be another clump of different plants that are also interesting, and perhaps you haven’t seen this clump before. You will find that when you start looking there is an entirely engrossing world in your yard just waiting to be discovered and all you need is a good guidebook.
  5. All you need is a good guidebook: Try foraging in your yard a few times, and if you feel the fascination kick-in then it’s time to invest in a good guidebook or field guide.  There are plenty of them out there – and many are specific to the area where you live. Of course I will keep writing about this because I love it, but I probably can’t write enough to keep pace with your fascination.
  6. Find a foraging-friendly friend: Everything is more fun when there’s two of you, and once you start doing some serious tromping around in the woods and fields and roadsides it can be nice to have company. I feel 100% confident that you will start tromping around seriously, so we may as well use the buddy system.



Happy cows! Grass fed beef.

Raw Milk is the Real Deal

Raw milk is something I have always promoted for health, but I thought it would be a cold day in hell before there would be any kind of positive public health message about it. Thankfully, it is a little frosty today:

Raw Milk is Real Nutrition:

Infographic by the team at Online Masters In Public Health

The Controversy About Raw Milk:

Raw milk has been a hot legal issue for a long time, with politicians regulating farmers left, right and center. In Texas, the uneasy truce has come with the simple solution of saying Texans can buy raw milk, but they have to drive to the farm (often hours away) to get it.  Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance is working to fix raw milk in Texas, but there is lots of opposition. Click for a link to their raw milk page.  In general they’re an amazing organization, protecting consumers and farmers and the quality of our food supply in Texas. Safety records for raw milk are stellar and there is no legitimate reason not to be able to sell it just like any other product or to allow farmers to deliver to their customers, but this is still a fight we have to continue.




Raw Milk is Superfood Raw Milk is Superfood – thanks to Chiot’s Run photostream on flickr – they’re fans of real milk (that means raw milk) too! How do you not love that face?

Once we solve that problem I’m off to find me some reindeer milk (reindeer raw milk, of course), because that sounds like something to add to my bucket list. Right beside having my own cow/goat/milk animal (I’m open to reindeer).

If you’re looking for source for your family, check out this link to the organization real milk, which helps connect regular folks to some astounding milk. Here’s the Texas Real Milk list.



BPA free is a load of B(p)S!

“BPA Free” Is TOXIC

Researchers at the University of Texas have found that “BPA-free” doesn’t mean safe, in fact BPS, which is the replacement in plastics, is just as toxic. BPA, which has been taken out of most consumer goods because of it’s strong effect on estrogen has been replaced by bisphenol S (BPS). I’m guessing you noticed that “bisphenol S” sounds almost exactly like “bisphenol A” and there’s a very good reason for that: it’s because they are almost exactly alike. When we found out how dangerous and toxic BPA was and consumers demanded BPA  free producs manufacturers just replaced it with BPS which has the same effects but isn’t as talked about in the media. Great system.

BPA Looks Like This:

BPA molecule

Bisphenol A molecule

 




 

 

BPS Looks Like This:

BPS - too close to BPA for comfort.

BPS – too close to BPA for comfort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The obvious similarities between BPA and BPS make them act in similar ways in your body.  BPA and BPS both bind to estrogen receptors and are linked with hormone-related cancers like breast cancer, prostate cancer and obesity.  BPA free doesn’t mean safe.

BPA free is a load of B(p)S!

BPA free is a load of B(p)S!

BPA free is a load of B(p)S!

The bottom line is that “BPA free” is a load of B(p)S!!! Share this with as many people as you can and help your friends and family buy safe products that are not plastic. Be a smart consumer. You can read more about the research below:

BPA replacement alters hormones at low doses, study finds — Environmental Health News.



Wonder Woman Did It Right – Power Poses and You.

I’m not sure if you know this, but we should all be more like Wonder Woman – for so many reasons really, not the least of which is her power pose. Harvard professor Amy Cuddy did a fabulous (FABULOUS!) TED talk on what she calls a “life-hack.” It’s a simple, profound way to change your life – totally free, totally low-tech, and totally based on Wonder Woman. So obviously, it’s legit.

 How Power Poses and Wonder Woman can change your life:

Really, how couldn’t Wonder Woman change your life – that’s the real question we should be asking. In all seriousness, this talk gives a deeply inspiring message about the simple things we do day to day, how we stand, how we sit, how we hold our bodies can change our physiology and our likeability as humans.  We speak a verbal language, but we also speak a deeper more influential language that we call body language.  Your body language is always influencing how others perceive you, but more importantly, it changes how YOU feel. Amy Cuddy’s research showed that not only does your posture change how you feel, but it also changes your hormone levels in a significant and meaningful way.  Standing in a power pose for two minutes significantly raises testosterone levels, boosting confidence and mood and lowers cortisol levels, which reduces anxiety. If you’ve got a big job interview, that could be just the thing you need to get through it with flying colors.




Straight from Amy Cuddy's TED talk - the classic power pose, a la Wonder Woman. Straight from Amy Cuddy’s TED talk – the classic power pose.

This means you can have a profound impact on your mood, your stress and your overall health in just two minutes.  So what if you take two minutes a day? What would the impact be then? You can actually change your destiny with two minutes of the power pose. It is that simple, because we are truly ruled by our hormone levels. Also, this not only changes how you feel internally, but also how you interact with the world and how those interactions go for you. Outside of prescription hormones this is typically not easy to do, so it’s amazing that this free, simple step can make such a huge difference in such a short time.

Here’s Amy Cuddy’s power pose TED talk:

The idea is that even if you don’t feel powerful, you can fake it ’til you make it. You can act powerful and confident until you realize that you actually ARE powerful and confident. Until you realize that a power pose is just your normal way of being in the world because you have become a leader.  Essentially standing like a leader gives your body the idea that you need to have the confidence and mental-emotional balance of a leader, so it produces that. Isn’t that just mind-blowing? This is just like the research that showed that smiling, even when you’re sad, causes your body to release the endorphins that would be released if you were actually happy.  Essentially if your face smiles, your body feels happy even if you’re smiling on cue. Maybe the classic case of changing your body changes your mind? You have nothing to lose – this is free, simple and takes two minutes. So, switch to a power pose and change your hormones and your life.



Pure Freaking Dance Joy

This week has been an uphill week so this video was like a little gift dropped in my lap – it is pure dance joy and just makes me smile every time I watch it. Part of being healthy is admitting when things have been tough and allowing yourself to have some reward time. It doesn’t help to just crack the whip and push yourself to be productive or to do more or to finish one more little task. Do the things that make you smile even if it’s just for a couple of minutes.  Take little breaks for absolutely no reason other than for the joy of it.

This? This is *totally* for the joy of it. The song is by Parov Stelar – All Night.  The dancer is the amazing and awesome Jamie Berry from Just Some Motion.  This just makes me want to close my office door and crank it up and see how much of this dance I can do right here. Pure dance joy.

Sometimes joy lands in your lap and thank God for it, but sometimes you have to remind yourself that joy is out there waiting for you. You can find it. This little bit of dance joy is really all you need to boost your mood. Actually – this and the Wonder Woman Pose and you are good to go.




Be someone who loves the gift - belly laugh and dance joy - here's to making life sizzle and pop. Be someone who loves the gift – belly laughs and dance joy – here’s to making your life sizzle and pop.

If you’re feeling a little low right now, or overwhelmed or freaked out or your soul is a little under-nourished then it’s time for joy-seeking behavior. I highly suggest making a list right now of the things that ALWAYS bring you joy. Put your Joy list on your phone, on your computer, on post-it notes and on your mirrors at home so that you can remind yourself about those little things. Here’s my joy list:

Yup. It's my joy list - things that are simple and easy to do that make me happy. Like dance joy videos from youtube. It's on my phone to remind me when I'm down.

Yup. It’s my joy list – things that are simple and easy to do that make me happy. Like dance joy videos from youtube. It’s on my phone to remind me when I’m down.

Some days (or weeks) it really helps to remind yourself that there are things out there that make you smile, that make things seem easier, that make you happy and that are within your reach.  There are no Lamborghinis on my joy list – it’s little things like dove dark chocolate squares and fresh flowers. Like listening to a great song with my headphones or taking three minutes for myself to meditate.  This is about little things you can work into your day to help lift your spirits when you’re down or overwhelmed. It’s your own mental health minute. It’s like the dance joy video for no reason other than to make yourself smile. Happiness has to be a priority, always. If you don’t make your own joy a priority then nobody will.