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 magnoliasspark 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 pearexplodes 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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:
Suspected hormone disruptors
Known or probable carcinogens
Developmental or reproductive 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
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.“
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.
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.
Daylight “saving time” is an oddity to me. The only time I think I’ve saved is when I am more efficient like writing my store note while my phone call is placed on hold. Other times it’s planning my route to accomplish the most along the way — or speeding up (just a little bit) to get somewhere sooner than later.
Being highly organized, I think I’ve saved a lot of time over the years but, sadly, there’s no place for its safekeeping — like a rainy day fund. Boy, I wish there was. Just think. If you could bank all those hours — kind of like the vacation time or sick days allotted at work — and use them where ever and whenever you want — like when you’re rushing to an appointment, just pull out an extra hour and that traffic jam doesn’t matter.
We could extend a vacation with extra time or in a macabre sense, have more time if diagnosed with a fatal disease. A friend with esophageal cancer told me, “Six months to live is just not enough time.” Think of it; if he could have been banking hours to extend his life, he’d have enough time to complete his bucket list.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I wish I could find the time.” So where is it? How can we find it? Numerous articles exist on time management. The one I offer here is by a favorite author of mine, Anne Lamott.
Regret often bears the lament, “What a waste of time.” Yet, in hindsight and particularly if lessons were learned, it was not a waste of time but an invaluable training ground.
My concepts of time have changed as time has changed me through the years. Going too slowly in my youth, they said I was wishing, wishing my life away when I could barely wait to be five, then thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one.
Years thereafter I lived in the past and worried about the future. Too often what was happening in the “now” was unpleasant and not where I wanted to be. It took a lot of retraining to attempt to stay in the moment.
Lately though, I’ve been so in the moment I’m wondering where did the time go? Somehow its evaporated, transformed into one longer moment from this moment into the next until the day is gone. Am I on accelerated speed? Are the clocks running fast? Time no longer lingers as when I was very young.
For most of my life, nature’s timing of the seasons seemed perfectly natural. Until these last few years, there was a consistency I do not feel in my own life even though I’m often living from one task to the next, one project, one calendar page to the next.
Now, my time spirals like a spinning top that one day will just stop. At least in the physical sense of here and now. Like perennials that bloom then wither and die to return again next year, being one with Tao offers eternity. But eternity sounds like “the future” to me. The traumas I’ve experienced and bagged up thus far have been exhausting. I don’t know if I could take eternity. Better to stay in the now.
And did you know Daylight Saving Time was originally conceived by Ben Franklin?
If I could freeze this exact moment in time, my skin would stay supple, my eyesight strong, and I would remain spry. So, even though I am staying in this moment in time, time itself is moving ahead — whether I like it or not — and I am running out of time.
The Daylight Saving Time change ill-affects me. Preferring to keep things as natural as possible, I don’t want my circadian rhythms messed with. They already have enough trouble from my PC, thank you. The Earth continues to rotate in 24-hour cycles. Are we going to try to change that too?
How do you perceive time? Has it felt different as you age? How do you feel about Daylight Saving Time? Does it have any affect on you?
I communicate in many languages. But my lexicon doesn’t contain words per se. No, I’m not talking about texting but of a communication so beautiful no words are necessary.
In seasonal poetry gatherings each of us brings a random poem to read aloud. The words we share are not our own but the understanding we glean from the words of others. While some may be serious, others witty, or thought provoking — and on any topic of choosing, a common thread soon appears. Ah, no doubt the Universe is at play here we chuckle each time we recognize the unintentional theme that connects us together.
The languages I convey do not use technology, social media, or heaven forbid a cell phone. A verbal silence in hand drumming makes room for magic. When words do not appear, the voice of the drums speaks profoundly through our creative energy. Rhythms intertwine, calling, responding, supporting, expressing, wandering, somewhere…but together.
Standing in my kitchen, I cook. My focus is lovingly preparing a tasty meal, and setting a table that honors the food and the ones it nourishes. Sitting together then and savoring this offering of utilitarian sensory art reveals the unseen ingredient.
Sharing the bounty of my garden, holding the door open for someone, offering a smile, anyone can understand. I do not need to say one word to communicate with anyoneanywhere. All of us can speak the same language when we do not use words.
Mother Nature’s beauty often leaves me speechless. When you see some of the fascinating images by landscape photographer Greg Large you may feel the same way too. View Greg’s work via The Vigorous Beauty Of Trees in the Edge of Humanity Magazine. They are too beautiful to not pass along for your viewing pleasure too.