Intentions (or how I had an interesting day)

Life is looking rosy.

Life is looking rosy.

I had an interesting experience today.  For the first time in months, I decided to set an intention.  I rarely remember to set intentions, but when I did it regularly, was usually pleased with the outcome.  With a smile, I decided I wanted to have a good day.  Today, Saturday, I had to work at the library.  I was scheduled to be on the desk in the afternoon, the busiest time, so things can get hectic, but the woman I was scheduled to work with is a good team player, so I wasn’t worried.  The best part was a journal writing workshop I wanted to attend was on the schedule in the morning, and my afternoon desk time left me free to go.  It also meant that the two co-workers who are less than stellar team players, shall we say, would work together.  So sitting in my car, setting my intention, I was feeling pretty good about my chances of having a good day.

Of course, that’s when things started to get ugly.  You guessed it: the schedule was wrong.

In the depths of winter there was within me an invincible summer.  Camus

In the depths of winter there was within me
an invincible summer.   Albert Camus

To begin with, the workshop was in the afternoon.  This meant that my desk buddy had to work the morning shift, since she was in charge of the programming and had to attend.  This also meant I would be scheduled on the desk during the workshop, so wouldn’t get to attend.  And due to limited staff on Saturdays, left me to work the busy afternoon with one of the less than stellar team players who a) hates me and b) hates working afternoons (stomping and pouting are involved — for both!).

WAIT.  What just happened here?  Didn’t I JUST set an intention to have a good day?  How could it crash so spectacularly so quickly?

That’s when it hit me:  I have a choice.  I could base my attitude about the quality of my day on the external circumstances that were shaping up to make me less than happy, or I could simply decide to go ahead and have a good day, hit the “Oh well…” button, and just roll with it.  It was also not lost on me that the Universe has an interesting sense of humor (to say the least) and was offering me this little “opportunity” as a “gift.”  (It is at this point that thoughts of “Oh, you shouldn’t have…” float through my head!)

Blooming all over.

Blooming all over.

In the end, the day was OK.  Maybe not perfect, but OK.   I got a handout from the workshop with lots of good information on it, and the afternoon passed quickly.   If something started to irritate me, I’d remember my choice and the gift that went with it.  I’d smile to myself, hit the “Oh well” button again, and watch the irritation roll away.

So, if you end up reading this on Monday morning, I wish you a good day and a good week.  And don’t forget to hit the “Oh well” button!

Keep Smiling!

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

food, addiction and inflammation

Hello, my name is Terrie, and I have a cookbook and health food addiction.

Well, sort of, anyway.  A couple month ago a young woman who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer told me about her diet:  No wheat, sugar, meat, fish, etc., and lots of juicing.  Then a former co-worker was diagnosed with cancer for the second time.  It got my attention.  Perhaps there is more I could be doing.  Thus began my odyssey into the world of food, cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.

my attempt at salad in a jar

my attempt at salad in a jar

First, I stumbled on Crazy, Sexy Diet and Forks over Knives (the movie).  They spout a belief in the use of a vegan/raw combo diet as the way to control existing cancers and prevent disease.  This sounded like what my young friend was doing.  After watching the movie, I was ready to jump on the bandwagon until I found an extremely thorough and well researched critique at Rawfoodsos (link below).  Using the same research study the movie is based on, she hacked big holes in their conclusions and helped convince me that vegan was a tad extreme for me.  Besides, I thought Steve might revolt.  So I read on and continued to look for a balanced solution (i.e. healthy and reasonable).

Along the way, I learned a few things:  The body needs a certain amount of protein to support immune function so that it can fight off cancer cells.  I also discovered the reason I’ve always felt like crap after being on a vegetarian diet for a few months was because I wasn’t getting nearly enough protein, and probably wasn’t eating a varied enough diet so that I could get all the nutrients I needed.   Many of the vegetarian cookbooks I have read say things like You don’t need as much protein as the government recommendations say you do.  And foolish me — I believed them!   But in the months following my cancer surgery, I was told to eat a LOT of protein.  I came to love my “Mojo juice”: a mixture of soy milk, powdered milk or muscle milk, and orange juice.  I could go from run-down-to-the-point-of-feeling-brain-damaged to coherent and semi-lively in 5 minutes after drinking that stuff.  So this last month, I began tracking my protein intake from day to day, and learned I felt better when I got the recommended amount, but felt tired and run down (a common complaint of mine) when I didn’t.  Since low protein intake wasn’t helping my immune system fight disease, I decided to help it out!   Oddly, I noticed I started sleeping a little better, too.  A double bonus!

But how to jive that whole vegetarians are healthier than omnivores thing?  smart 006

This lead me into a whole line of reading about acid and alkaline diets.  Basically, the Standard American Diet (SAD — don’t you love it!?) of meat and potatoes, bread and dairy, followed by a coffee or cola chaser, is hard on your body.  My understanding is that it makes your blood rather acidic, which results in bones and teeth that crumble (the calcium leaches out in an attempt to balance the body’s pH).  It also creates a low level of inflammation in your body that is not reflected in elevated immune response (e.g. white blood cells), but non-the-less effects your health by setting the stage for disease states such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.  I felt like I was on to something!  What this said to me was that the diseases we often associate with old age are amenable to healthier lifestyle choices.  Hmmm…Hamburger or heart attack?  French fries and a shake or get up in the morning without creaking and groaning? Decisions, decisions…

The more I read on this inflammation process, the more I saw things either in myself or others that never made sense before.  Mood changes, anxiety, sleep disturbances,  blood sugar weirdness, muscle aches, joint pain and stiffness — a whole host of minor complaints! — are influenced by this inflammation process.  Recently, a coworker started having muscle aches in his forearms.  After carpal tunnel was ruled out and numerous therapies didn’t help, he tried eliminating the nightshade plants (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers & eggplant — all pro-inflammatory).  The pain went away.  He went out with some friends and had some french fries, and spent the next 2-3 days in extreme pain.  Lesson learned.

In the end, I settled on the Anti-inflammatory diet.  Being sort of overwhelmed with books on health and cooking, I found a nice synopsis on Dr. Andrew Weil’s website.  Basically, it amounts to lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and omega-3 containing fish (e.g. salmon), while avoiding wheat, sugar, meat, and colas.  No where does it say that something is an absolute no-no.  Rather, the diet seems to me to be about being aware of what you eat, all things in moderation, and easing yourself into a more balanced lifestyle diet.  i.e. it’s sane and healthy, and just what I was looking for.

As for acid/alkaline, I’ve about figured out that if it has protein, it’s going to be acid forming in your body, so just make sure to balance that out with lots of fruits and veggies.  And if all else fails, you can put lemon or lime or even just a pinch of baking soda in your water, all of which, oddly enough, are alkaline in your system.

The drawback with all of this is that, really, you have no idea what the foods are doing, either good or bad.  So, you have to trust the data.  For years, we’ve known that vegetarians are healthier than omnivores, so I figure the more I ease over to that side of the eating spectrum, the healthier I’ll be.  (Mark Bittman’s one man experiment with eating vegan before 6 seems to back this up.  He lost weight and obtained healthier blood levels. See his book VB6 for more information.  OK, so I’m not completely done with reading health/cookbook type books!)

Have a great week, eat healthy, and keep smiling!

http://rawfoodsos.com/2011/09/22/forks-over-knives-is-the-science-legit-a-review-and-critique/

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02012/anti-inflammatory-diet

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Tale of the Soothing Silverware

I snapped this weekend.  The silverware drawer finally got to me.  Something had to go.  I decided I’d try an experiment, so I got knives of the THREE different partial sets of silverware and asked Steve to put them in order by which one he liked best to least.  I planned to do the same thing, with the hope that we would agree in the middle.  Steve looked at his assignment for a minute, then turned and said “This is the only one I really like.”  I looked, and was amazed and relieved to see the same one I would have picked.

And the winner is...

And the winner is…

We emptied the drawer, separated everything by design, and learned that the set we liked has 6 forks, 8 spoons, and 2 knives.  Hmmm…  In an act of bravery (or desperation), I took the rejects to work where they desperately needed some new options.  It also prevented me from being a weenie and keeping silverware I don’t like any more just so we can have enough.  This decision, oddly enough, has had the benefit of forcing me to wash the dishes immediately after I use them.  (That’s never been a problem, has it?)

But there is another benefit that I’m enjoying even more.

What I noticed when I looked in the drawer was how uncluttered it looked.  There weren’t any decisions to make about which design I wanted to eat with today.  The slots in the silverware holder weren’t piled high.  It was simpler, almost soothing to look at.

We will eventually get around to buying a new set that we both like, but I’m guessing it won’t be a set for 12!

Keep smiling!

Leave a comment

April 1, 2013 · 9:07 pm

Fermenting

I’m not exactly sure how I’ve gotten into this, but lately I have gotten interested in fermented foods.  Fermented food includes things like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kefer, and yogurt.  Things get even weirder from there.  Did you know it is possible to ferment tea?

curtido, a fermented food

curtido, a fermented food

You put this disgusting looking leathery thing into sweet tea, leave it for a week, and then drink.  It’s called kombucha and claims to cure what ails you.  I’ve tried it from the store — it has a sort of natural fizz.  The thought of making it is a little frightening.  (This didn’t stop me from trying it, though.  Mine came out tasting fine at first, then quickly turned to vinegar.  i.e.  It needs work!)

Fermented foods that have not been canned, pasteurized, or cooked are filled with lots of good probiotics, enzymes, and healthy bacteria that help establish and maintain good gut flora & fauna.  (OK, it’s just flora, but I like saying flora & fauna.)  Gut flora gets messed up by the crappy food we eat, too much sugar, antibiotics, stress, and chemotherapy.  This leads to an unhappy gut.  I’ve heard claims that as much as 70% of our immune function resides in the gut.  An unhappy gut can result in symptoms such as gas, constipation or diarrhea, food sensitivities, allergies, etc.  Since I have watched my allergies go from something I barely noticed to thinking I’ve caught the worst cold of my life, doing something that promises to boost my immune function seemed like a good idea.

purple cabbage leaves lovely sauerkraut  juice

purple cabbage leaves lovely sauerkraut juice

So far, I have experimented with making pickles, sauerkraut, and curtido, a South American sauerkraut with cabbage, onion, carrot and oregano that is quite tasty, and have taken to drinking kefer (it’s a sort of liquid yogurt), have some occasional miso, and made a beautiful pie out of Greek vanilla yogurt, peanut butter, chocolate sauce and Reese’s cups in a graham cracker crust.  It’s tasty.  Steve thinks of it as breakfast pie.

One of the interesting claims is that fermented foods and all those good probiotics help clear “brain fog.”  I don’t know about you, but any time I even think things like “I’ll remember this later,” I just start laughing and reply with “Yea, right.”  I do know that the gut is called the second brain because all the neurotransmitters present in the brain are also present in the gut (I wonder if that’s why I “think” I’m hungry so much???).  So, if fermented foods make my gut happier, it seems reasonable that my brain might benefit as well.

At any rate, it’s been a fun little experiment!

Keep smiling!

 

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Visioning vs. Listening

Recently I checked out a book from the library on vision boards.  This is a concept that has crossed my path multiple times over the last 20 years.  I always groan.  “More magazines.  More cutting and gluing.  This is stupid.” Can you tell I have issues with it?  But here I was trying it again.  I didn’t make it much further than the table of contents before I closed the book and thought “Not again.”  But this time there was also the realization that I’d rather listen for what the Universe wants for me than tell it what I want.

Lending Library, Medicine Park, OKWhat I realized is that, in a way, they are the same thing.  The problem is that when I do the “I want” thing, I usually end up “wanting” what someone else thinks is a good idea — and I have the degrees to prove it!  I still catch myself in new situations wondering what’s the “right” thing to do, or watching to see what others do so I’ll know how to proceed.  Listening for and learning what I want was not a skill that was encouraged when I was growing up.  All those adults meant well, but I’ve had to learn the hard way that someone else’s idea of success doesn’t work for me.  So, instead,  I’ve been working on my listening skills.

Listening, in essence, becomes a sort of “I want 101.”  Training wheels for the spiritually inclined.  A few years ago I found a great exercise* where, in separate columns, you were to list major turning points in your life, then list any intuitions or nudges you had around each one.  Then you were to note whether you followed the nudge or not and how that turned out for you.  Sadly, in something like 8 out of 10 events, I didn’t follow the nudge and went the “you should” route, and it was a disaster.  Blessedly, in 2 instances, I did follow the nudge.  Things were rocky but eventually worked out well.  For years I thought I never received any nudges.  This exercise let me know I HEAR them just fine — I just don’t follow them worth a shit!  Crap.  I really hoped to lay the blame elsewhere…

So now I am trying to listen — and let go of knowing the grand plan.  It’s taking practice — and trust — but at least so far it hasn’t involved getting another degree!

*The Power of Flow by Charlene Belitz & Meg Lundstrom Flow exercise: Life Lessons, page 140 (C1998)

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

How to Furnish a Home

How to Furnish a Home

As someone has said, “Thoughts are things,” and the atmosphere of every home depends on the kind of thoughts each member of that home is thinking.

 I wish this was mine!

I wish this was mine!

We all know there is a spirit in every home, a sort of composite spirit composed of the thoughts and feelings of the members of the family as a composite photograph is formed of the features of different individuals.  This spirit meets us at the door as we enter the home.  Sometimes it is a friendly, hospitable spirit, and sometimes it is cold and forbidding.

….for a good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other temper.

written by Laura Engels Wilder, November 1917

Loved this quote.  When I was looking for a house, I started out looking and learning about the layout and architecture, features I had to have, etc, but eventually I learned to listen for the feel of a house.  I knew immediately upon walking in whether a house had been a rental by the cold, impersonal feel it had.  I waited until I found a house where people had been happy.  It felt warm, content, welcoming.

May all our homes be warm and welcoming and full of laughter for the coming year.  Just keep smiling!

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Happy Coincidence!

This has been a particularly good Christmas.  What made it good was the wonderful coincidences that appeared.  I’ve read before that if you don’t think God speaks to you or tries to guide your actions, you should start keeping a log of your coincidences.  I did this for several years.  What I noticed was that I could read through my entries and often a clear pattern would begin to emerge.  What eventually ended my compulsion to write them down was that everything began to seem coincidental.  Of course, when you find yourself having conversations with red street lights, you do begin to wonder about your sanity at bit…  But in my defense, I do get significantly more green lights when I’m expressing a lot of gratitude!  I take my incentive where I can find it.

Chesapeake 2This year for Christmas, we had decided against making plans to get a cabin.  We love visiting State Parks, but Christmas is notorious for its nasty weather, so we decided we’d just plan on a day hike sometime over the weekend and stay more flexible.  The weather was supposed to stay in the 60’s until Christmas Day, and with four glorious days off in a row, this gave us lots of options.  Then a week before, my sister called and wanted to come visit — a couple days BEFORE Christmas!  It is rare that the timing works so perfectly that both Steve and I have off when someone wants to visit, so we were thrilled by the timing.  They drove out of a blizzard’s aftermath in Iowa, and were greeted by 60 degree weather here.  Their visit also gave us an excuse to eat out (and avoid doing dishes!  My husband particularly liked that part), and go see the lights at Chesapeake Energy and the Myriad Gardens, and the beautiful ornament displays in the new Devon building.

Devon Pine ConesChristmas Day a blizzard was supposed to hit us, but Oklahoma weathermen tend to be of the overly exciteable ilk, and what is predicted to be 4-8 inches of snow has a tendency to become a dusting to 1/4 inch.  This was no exception.  The result of all the hoopla was that we just stayed home, read, watched a movie, and basically tried to veg out before having to return to work.  Then, around 5pm, just as Christmas dinner was about ready, my neighbor called and wanted to bring his wonderful Chex mix (secret recipe!).  Thanks to Steve’s wonderful “Hospitality Gene,” our neighbor ended up joining us for dinner, providing the dessert, and giving me an excuse to open the wine I bought (what are neighbors for?!).  He seemed as thrilled as we were to be able to share Christmas dinner with friends.  Devon 2

All of this is to say that when your life is going right, you should experience a fair amount of “flow.”  All I know is that we went to a Christmas Eve service last night, and all through the service and especially during communion, I kept breaking into a big grin and feeling so incredibly grateful for what a good year 2012 has been!  I’m grateful for my health and my hair, for labyrinth walks and the energy work that’s helped me get unstuck and more forward, for SpaceClear and the sources that are helping me simplify my life and declutter my house, my time, and my thoughts.  I’m grateful for Steve, and I’m grateful for all the friends who have encouraged me to keep writing.  And yes, we got a LOT of green lights on the drive home!

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and may you each be blessed with a wonderful New Year.  Keep Smiling!

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized