Tao of Spring

I love this time of year — one foot stepping away from dismal winter, the other turning toward spring’s pulsating energy and invigorating growth.

Mother Nature turns her pages as weeping cherry blossoms invite sleepy trees to leaf out.  Rosettes emerge beneath woody stalks from last year’s Autumn Joy…lifeless looking rosebushes begin to swell…rain purges pollen while transforming blue skies into grey and flourishing winter’s grass resplendent green…alluring buds rouse allergies yet spring’s intoxicating sights and scents are ecstasy to my  spirit.

Insensate winter unfolding to scintillating spring — assurance that endings are beginnings.

“It feels as though the beginning and the end are intertwined, thus leading to a never-ending cycle. Surely this will not be the end. Just as it can’t be considered the beginning. Just as it can’t be determined where the beginning or the end is.”

Eunjin Jang, No One Writes Back

 

Bleeding Hearts for Mom

Bleeding hearts emerging at this time of year remind me of all the compassionate Moms, their generous hearts, inner beauty, and unconditional love.   Somehow these mothers don’t readily give up, resilient with an abundance of blind faith and patient hope.

Still, I doubt there is a mother whose heart has not been broken at one time or another in child rearing.  I’ve known a number of Moms who could be considered dangerously softhearted, to the point of not honoring their own needs or health.  Perhaps it’s no coincidence that these Bleeding heart beauties appear in time for Mother’s Day… or that they are perennials, steadfastly returning year after year.  Isn’t Mom always there for you too?

 

 

Nature Teacher: Appreciate what you have right now

My Magnificent Magnolia greets me as I sip a morning latte’ and bids me goodnight in the moonlight.  Standing gloriously amidst an evening rain or grey sky, her steadfast glow casts a brilliance though my window.  I am awash in awe.

4-26-19 April magnolia 004

We’ve been together for decades now — she being here long before I moved in.  Maturing into a queen of nature’s beauty, this Magnificent Magnolia is my focal point during morning Qigong, and before turning in to sleep, I give her one last loving look.

4-26-19 evening magnolia 004Too many times the formidable April rains scattered her petals to the ground by morning’s light or before I’ve arrived back home, a disappointment paralleled to not having a chance to say goodbye.

But, I understand the inevitable better now and  cherish each look at her grandeur.  It may be the last but it stirs me as profoundly as her first bloom.  Silently, she reminds me to appreciate what I have right now.  In a second, it can be gone.

 

 

Spring Sets My Heart Afire

It’s been a relatively long winter.  Of course, I always feel that way after half a year of Northeast cold and grey.  And although Spring appeared on the calendar a month ago, it waits until about now to dazzle me with her show.  Each day the bleeding hearts rise taller and taller, and more garlic greens dart through the earth, the scintillation sets my soul ablaze.

.

Kindling the grey winter landscape aglow in green, Spring wondrously ignites death with life.  Saucer magnolias spark purple blooms, smoky lavender clouds flicker above eastern red buds, and delicate pink weeping cherry blossoms shimmer in the wind while the glowing white flowering pear explodes in the sky.  Like yellow-suited firefighters, showy forsythias arrive first on the scene.  Dwarf blue iris, orange-eyed daffodils and red tulips are next responders.  

Intoxicated with Spring’s opulent beauty of textures, shapes and hues, I am mesmerized by the magic appearing before my eyes.  And so grateful I have eyes to see.

Getting Out of the Breakfast Box

One in five deaths globally are diet-related. Think about that. Too much sodium (salty snacks), sugar (refined carbohydrates and sugary drinks), and not enough whole grains, fruits or vegetables are the culprit. And it’s something most can control. No surprise, diets in the healthiest countries — Japan, Israel, France and Spain — contain lots of vegetables, nuts, fruits, and healthy oils (similar to the Mediterranean diet).

I’ve never been one to count calories or try one fad diet after another. Instead of “dieting,” I prefer the idea of eating in a new (and hopefully healthier) way. Moderation is my guide. Although white flour and white sugar are health no-nos for everyone, I do believe the body reveals what is best. (I just need to listen!)  My thought process and physical energy, for instance, scream for a nap after eating refined carbs. Protein, greens and healthy fats like olive oil, on the other hand, are hi-test.

For years, I struggled with the notion that “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” because I’m rarely hungry upon waking or for several hours afterward. When making myself eat when not hungry, I gained weight. Being a recovering potato chip addict, I love carbs but when I dump the potatoes and pasta and oh, that fresh-baked crusty bread, I lose weight — and feel better.

That delicious and nutritious salad I shared with you recently has become my breakfast.  Breakfast in the sense it’s my first meal of the day which is actually around lunch time — not because that’s when I’m waking up but because that’s when I feel hungry. And it’s fulfilling — in all ways.

I can easily make a healthy salad at home but when traveling I doubt I’ll see salad on the breakfast menu. Still, I’m hopeful since fruit earned its place there long ago and breakfast smoothies have been popping up. So, go ahead, try it.  Eat some greens for breakfast and see how you feel.

lettuce
Photo credit:  Pixabay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Foolish

One letter easily transforms food into fool.

One unhealthy food choice is eating foolishly.

Fool Me Once
A turn of the calendar page indicates April Fools Day is near. But many of us have been fools all along, duped into believing that all grocery store items provide sustenance.  

Fooled for a long time, I trusted government agencies and legislators. If they allowed processed ingredients, hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, herbicides and pesticides into our food, they must be safe, right? Well actually, I hadn’t given it much thought. But, when a devastating illness forced me to become more aware of what I was eating, I learned that food produced from “ingredients” and “packaged” in a bag or box was really not so good for me.


fool/fo͞ol
noun:   a person who is duped; a person who acts unwisely or imprudently.
verb:  to trick or deceive someone; dupe them.

I understand how easy it is to be fooled when I don’t have the information to know better. I also understand how I become foolish when I do have the information to know better but don’t — a classic case of acting unwisely.

Thankfully, the truth is more readily available today about what’s marketed loosely as “food.” Still, many don’t have an interest or take time to investigate as evidenced by numerous fast food chains, and shopping carts overflowing with junk food, and potential “meals” like frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (Really?) or microwavable pancakes and sausage “on a stick.” (No wonder we have a health care crisis when we don’t care about ourselves or what and how we eat.)


food/fo͞od
noun:  any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb in order to maintain life and growth.

Don’t Fool Me Twice

That bag of potato chips or cheese curls is not life giving. Becoming addicted, our cravings ignore the label of artificial ingredients — at least, perhaps, until we feel really sick.  

Author and health activist Bri Maya Tiwari introduced me to the unseen benefits of preparing my own food — like the energy I place into it by hand chopping or slicing rather than tossing it in a food “processor.” Her book, The Path of Practice – A Woman’s Book of Healing with Food, Breath, and Sound made food prep a meditative activity for me, and my kitchen a more sacred space.

 

You can Fool Some of the People Some of the Time…
A few years later, a vegan friend educated me on the horrors of factory farming and Monsanto’s blatant denial of poisoning our earth, food, and people. I knew schools had soda and candy vending machines, and that lobbyists ensured potatoes would be included in school diets. What I didn’t know, that Michael Pollan exposed in his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemna:  A Natural History of Four Meals, is that, among other shocking details, caustic sprays poison workers in potato fields.  (How can we let this happen?)

The Pesticide Data Program of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggests  that any of these residues may be found on potatoes:

    • Neurotoxins
    • Suspected hormone disruptors
    • Known or probable carcinogens
    • Developmental or reproductive toxins
    • Honeybee toxins

How long will we be convinced that ingesting contaminated potatoes won’t harm our bodies?  Still craving those french fries?


“It is the nature of every person to error, but only the fool perseveres in error.” – Cicero

Listing the overwhelming number of toxicants allowed in our food chain might make you too afraid to eat much of anything. That is not my intent, nor is it to fool you into thinking I eat perfectly healthy all the time.

Becoming more mindful of what I consume is a beginning. Making one conscious choice is one healthier step than foolishly pretending unnatural, chemically-treated foodstuffs won’t harm me. Hearing the increasing cases of cancer and allergies – even in the youngest of children, I can’t ignore the information I’ve uncovered.  I simply have to value my self enough to follow it and not be fooled on April 1st — or any other day for that matter.

Thoughts for Food
Being present with my food, activities and the people in my life makes a huge difference in the energy I extend to the world and in my health.

 

What are your experiences with food?  Has your grocery shopping or food prep changed over time? I’d love to hear what books influenced your eating selections or habits.  Please do share!

 

Feature photo original image by Momentmal from Pixabay

Nature Teacher: Nothing is as Nothing Seems

Opening the compost bin lid reveals decomposing garlic skins, leek greens, maple leaves, apple cores, coffee grounds, and other unidentifiable by now but formerly salubrious consumables. Dirt from last summer’s potted flowers (probably the water-logged ones that couldn’t withstand the heavy rains) is mixed in. I suppose most would view this as rubbish or waste — something without purpose, and quickly dump it into their Glad bag lined garbage can or down the disposal. But, long-time gardening has unearthed a prismatic perspective for me.

My compost bin is my glad bin you could say.  Saving kitchen scraps like fruit and vegetable parings, and egg and shrimp shells enhances the soil like nothing else but it also enriches me — and my thinking. These unsightly scraps once endowed delicious meals that contributed to my good health, and will continue to be of benefit. Now they are transforming into nutrient rich soil that will grow my garden full of herbs and vegetables which I will share and eat, and save their parings for the ongoing compost bin. This unattractive, thought-provoking phenomenon is food for thought in its purest form.

Digging deeper and deeper to aerate the compost, I begin seeing below the surface. Nothing is as nothing seems. My thoughts turn to the good in what seems offensive, to the beautiful and nutritious soil that this senescent matter will become, to the duality of the taijitu (yin-yang symbol), that nothing is 100% all good or all bad, and to the stories of people who look like they own nothing but have the most generous hearts. My mind wanders to the elderly who were once young and vibrant, firm and glowing like lemons or frilly and brilliant as carrots but are now devalued and often cast aside because they no longer produce or are too wrinkly or shriveled for our youth worshiping culture to see beyond the outside. I say, “Look below the surface. Unearth those unapparent gems. Nothing is as nothing seems.

lemons-2434941_1280
Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

 

Mother Nature Made my Lunch Today

I made this salad for lunch. Well, actually Mother Nature made it for me, I simply chose to partake of her delectable edibles that nourish me in boundless ways when I choose to look her way.

Convenience or Necessity — Which is it and What Matters Most?
Too often, I grabbed a bag or box of processed food because I thought it was quicker, easier. But, digging deeper I asked what am I trading off for this “convenience”? Being sold on “convenience,” I’ve found is often a cover up for something that is actually not so healthy like the increased health risks from Fitbit or extended cell phone use.

At one time I bought into the “fast” food trap, thinking it would save me time in meal prep. But when I noticed the long drive-through lines and realized I could prepare a steak, vegetable and salad within 20 minutes — AND relax at my table to consume it, rather than behind the steering wheel at a red light — I began to change my ways. It didn’t make sense to be handed a bag of virtually dead food tainted with GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and any other nasty ingredient that deteriorates good health when I could choose more wholesome and satisfying real “food.”

Thinking Behind the Goods
My thinking was lazy. Naively trusting big business and government I thought if products are allowed on the market they must be safe, right? Right. When the money trail of lobbyists controlling government, health and essentially our lives uncovered that fallacy, my thinking turned circumspect.


Think those chicken nuggets are simply “breaded “chicken”? If you knew a chicken nugget is “made from” 38 ingredients with nearly half of them derived from corn, or that they contain TBHQ which is derived from petroleum, would you still eat them? You may want to think twice before ordering again, or feeding them to your kids for Heaven’s sake.


Taking Time for All of You
There’s truth in the time-tested saying, “If you don’t have your good health, you don’t have anything.” I had to decide what’s more important — rushing to a class or making a deadline by quickly eating bad food, or nourishing body, mind and spirit through Mother Nature’s generous offerings for vitality and vigor? The answer seems obvious, but those “self-imposed” time constraints often get in the way.

Think you’re too busy to grocery shop for fresh produce? To rinse the spinach, red oak lettuce and red raspberries? Not enough time to chop some red bell pepper, and slice golden beets to roast? Too overloaded you say to whisk some strawberry balsamic vinegar with light olive oil while toasting the pecans…then dabbing some Chevre cheese on top and adorning with dried tart cherries? Think again. The benefits exceed the eye.

Creating a salad like this satisfies more than the belly, while a box or bag of processed food harms it. (No coincidence that shelves are flooded with probiotics and OTC remedies for stomach distress these days.) Rampant busyness robs downtime, a necessity for mind and body regeneration.


Still think you don’t have time to support your well-being?

This salad is loaded with fiber, antioxidants, protein, and nutrients through vitamins and minerals like A, B6, boron, C, calcium, copper, E, folate, folic acid, iron, K, lycopene, manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, quercitin, riboflavin, selenium, thiamine, and zinc.

Additionally, pecans which are high in healthy unsaturated fat, help lower “bad” cholesterol. Golden beets also lower cholesterol and blood pressure, decrease heart disease risk, help prevent various cancers, and cleanse the kidneys. Tart cherries contain melatonin and tryptophan which can promote better sleep. Goat cheese offers anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and contains healthy fats, including medium-chain fatty acids that can improve satiety and benefit weight loss. These are only some of the “physical” benefits. 


Selecting ingredients I thought would work together tapped into my creativity, while preparing the produce was an in-the-moment meditative experience. How divine to then taste each layer of color, flavor and texture. Raspberries and cheese melting in my mouth under the ying-yang, sweet-tart balsamic dressing and crunch of spinach and roasted pecans was far more pleasing — and nutritious too — than any bag of processed whatever I could pick-up. Mother Nature endows us with her riches. It’s simply up to us to accept the gift.


 

fruit-2367029_1280
This photo: Pixabay