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.


 

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This photo: Pixabay

It’s all a Matter of Time

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.

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Photo credit: Pixabay

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.

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Photo credit: Markus Spiske temporausch.com from Pexels

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.

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Photo credit: geraldfriedrich2 on Pixabay

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.

Here’s 20 quotes about living 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?

 

 

Nature Teacher: The Natural Timing of Things

Plants wither and die

in time

as we experience it.

Everlasting physical beauty

is contrary

if not impossible

or simply a matter of perception.

Why tamper with the natural timing of life?

Shriveled leaves talk of acceptance.

They do not worry.

Crinkles speak of wisdom.

It is humans who do not understand

and self-inflict suffering,

trying to erase

a life lived

well or not.

Some (not so) Squirrelly Advice for Pleasant Holidays

Mixed Nuts
What do you think about when you think about squirrels?  Ravaged bird feeders?  Acrobatic acts?  Rabies?  The park?  Nuts?  Well, yes, nuts.  That also comes to mind when I think about the December holidays.

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Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash

Not just the type of nuts we eat — like roasted chestnuts, walnuts on that sumptuous apple pie, or honey coated peanuts in the snack dish, but nuts as in gathering frantically like a squirrel, and nuts as in foolishly excessive holiday behaviors.   It’s a bountiful season for sure, but will it fill us up or leave us feeling exhausted, robbed and empty?

Filling Up More than Stockings
Each of us can choose to step back and celebrate in simpler, more meaningful ways.  You can create a holiday celebration of choice and one that enriches, rather than depletes, you or loved ones — physically, emotionally, and financially.  Take time to think about what Christmas really means to you.

  • Is it that important to try and create the perfect Christmas of yesterday, or a happier one now?  If so, dig deeper and ask yourself why.
  • Will taking on additional activities amidst an already crammed schedule affect your ability to give others your undivided, in-the-moment attention…or leave you feeling distracted, tired and resentful?
  • Is it worth it to over-spend, searching for an ideal gift when expectations and disappointments often cancel out efforts of holiday goodwill?
  • Are your actions obligatory or from the heart?  Compulsory sentiments and gifts noticeably lack holiday cheer for both the giver and receiver.
  • Will you honor your self-care with adequate rest, nutritious foods, exercise, asking for help, and being financially responsible?  Or will you set yourself up to sour your holiday mood?

Do your actions make sense?  Do they seem a little nuts to you?  Be honest.

Enlist Creativity
If you own a bird feeder, you’ve witnessed a squirrel’s analytical creativity accessing it — including those supposedly “squirrel proof” feeders.  Be as innovative.

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Photo by Anthony Intraversato on Unsplash

If others are involved, ask each person to select the one thing about the holidays that makes their heart sing.  Avoid the inner critic’s beleaguering to add just one more thing then another because you’ll be right back to the overload you tried to lighten.  Determine what is absolutely necessary then sew those pieces together to broaden smiling faces around a more joyful holiday.   You may be pleasantly surprised to discover it’s not a holiday of lack but one of overflowing abundance from the spirit within.


Apply Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh‘s sentiment to the holidays… “Once you identify your deepest intention, you have a chance to be true to yourself, to celebrate the kind of holiday you’d like to have, and to be the kind of person you’d like to be.”


Trudging through Tradition
Several years ago I happily exchanged some traditional activities for what means most to me.  Quieter gatherings, tuning in to nature and the gifts she generously offers day in and out, gladden my spirit.  (This is not to say I don’t host or attend holiday parties.  But I keep them manageable, not falling prey to Madison Avenue’s message that I must decorate my house with a thousand lights, bake cookies, and overextend my bank account purchasing lavish gifts.)

A friend, looking frazzled and slumped in her chair, told me yesterday how overwhelmed she felt filling out 300 Christmas cards!  Three hundred cards?  Who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed?  But, was it really necessary?  It’s important to connect with others and tell them how much they mean to us but if it adds a layer of stress it doesn’t make sense to me — it’s nuts.

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Photo by remi-skatulski on Unsplash

All in a Nutshell
Make the holidays what you want them to be and create cherished memories.  Don’t worry or fret.  Otherwise you may become like the red squirrel whose coat turned grey from stress.   🙂

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Photo by Arthur Rachbauer on Unsplash

Get More Social

By now, you know my feelings about the overuse and addictive characteristics of social media, particularly as it hampers one’s interest in human to human communication and experiencing the natural environment.  I offer Christina Farr’s article in the hopes it will help those of you trying to detox and return to a more serene, content and manageable life.  As a society, we do have the ability to take back our lives.  Have you noticed a recent wave of people saying, “Enough is enough” and unplugging to stop the progression of anxiety, depression, chaos and confusion that social media has introduced into their lives?

While Christina offers her personal experience of attending a formal camp to unplug, you can reduce stress and create a more rich and satisfying life by asking yourself a few introspective questions like:

  1. What is truly important to me?  Personal time with friends and loved ones, or how many likes I’ve received?
  2.  If I had one day left on this planet, what would I do — would I post on social media or respond to that inner nudge to do something I always wanted to do like mountain climb or learn to play a musical instrument?  What have I always wanted to do but spent my hours on social media instead?
  3. How do I feel inside when taking a walk in nature, looking at someone in the eye and seeing their smile versus hearing constant pings on my device?
  4. Is my time better spent helping someone through volunteer work or trying to impress and compete with the virtual lives of others?
  5. What makes me feel content?  What makes me feel anxious or depressed?

Make a list if you need to.  Let it look you squarely in the eye and you’ll know what you need to do to truly live a meaningful life.   Here’s how Christina handled her social media addiction:

Social media detox: Christina Farr quits Instagram, Facebook

Christina Farr used to spend 5 hours a week posting and interacting with friends on Instagram. She quit cold this summer, and her life changed dramatically for the better.

Source: Social media detox: Christina Farr quits Instagram, Facebook

Seasons Fading Like Leaves

It’s an off season

but natural in its own right.

There’s no familiar summer, winter, spring or fall anymore

except for dates on a calendar.

Can we explain it away,

simply say the weather is as diverse as people, places, life —

that to live, to be alive, is to change?

Reduce. Recycle. Reuse they say.

But the seasons?

I am a child of four seasons

picking springtime bouquets

chasing summer fireflies

rolling in leaves

and sledding til numb.

As I matured, adult responsibilities pushed childhood activities to the recesses of my mind.  But, I never dreamed the four seasons of my youth would become a distant memory, something to read about in history books of a time that once was.

As a child, leaves fell in September.

A few years ago they began in August.

This year, my yard was covered in July.

Thunderstorms previously endured in June and humidity that marked August are now daily occurrences commandeering the summer I use to know.  Look forward to.  Love.

The seasons have faded like leaves…

Is it a natural progression of time

the human disregard for the natural order of things

or Mother Nature’s retribution?

Spring and Autumn have silently been waving good-bye

but we were too busy, too greedy, too self-centered to notice.

Reduce.  Recycle.  Reuse.

Two seasons:  hot and cold.

two

Hot and cold.

Meditation Protection…

Every now and then my passion for gardening and appreciating nature is punctuated by technology’s increasing thirst to control our lives. To me, these cold and calculating ways are the antithesis to nature’s infinite beauty and serenity. That is why this topic pops up on my blog now and then (no pun intended).

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Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

I bumped into an old friend recently who said her eldest child is retired (at age 35). After making and investing his millions as a technological entrepreneur, he and his wife now live in an Airstream, traveling cross-country to hike and explore nature’s magnificence. “He meditates quite a bit,” she added.

This gave me hope that those so addicted to devices will realize the hours they’ve wasted not living real life, or freedoms they’ve willingly discarded by allowing technology to think for them.

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Photo by YIFEI CHEN on Unsplash

My concerns about the ethical crises in technology were confirmed by best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari, and executive director of the Center for Humane Technology, Tristan Harris who explained how people, corporations and governments are using technology to hack human beings. (Harris previously studied the ethics of human persuasion at Google.)

In their When Tech Knows You Better than You Know Yourself interview, these philosophers raised the question:  “Whose best interests should technology be serving — individuals or corporations?  Should apps be as successful (and profitable) as possible which equates to addiction, loneliness, alienation, social comparison…”

“There’s a reason why solitary confinement is the worst punishment we give human beings. And we have technology that’s basically maximizing isolation because it needs to maximize the time we stay on the screen,” Harris said.

Think about that. Really let it sink in. So many have imprisoned themselves with technology. Remember, a prior post on my friend whose brother is addicted to gaming and barely leaves his room anymore?

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Hearing that some children would rather do chores or homework than play outside baffled me. Was it a fear of Lyme Disease,  Zika Virus, or the extreme humidity of global warming? I didn’t want to go outside either in the humidity this summer but didn’t stay tied to a device either.

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Instead, I discuss the Tao and hand drum with friends, attend Tai Chi classes, concerts, live theatre and art exhibits.  At home I’m nurturing flower and veggie gardens while playing with my beloved border collie or practicing Qigong. Experimenting in the kitchen and reading a great library book enhance my time. Yes, I love those page turners (literally and otherwise)!

I was thrilled to find Blogtasticfood.com where Nick’s mission is to “post super awesome recipes and get peoples butts in the kitchen.” I love it. Real cooking feels (and tastes) wholesome and nourishing to me. I’d much prefer devoting my time to creating a delicious meal than being consumed by social media, texting or the internet (while eating packaged preservative-laden processed foods). Tactile, personal connections mean more to me than an addictive device.

Frankly, I don’t want Amazon to know right before my light bulbs burn out (so they can sell me more). And I don’t want them to deliver groceries to my door so that I can isolate, and not get any fresh air, exercise, or interaction with my external environment.  “Don’t use it, you lose it,” still rings true.

However, as much as it sounds like I detest technology, I don’t. It’s the addictive aspects and loss of privacy and relationships that concern me. I agree with Harari that, “The system in itself can do amazing things for us. We just need to turn it around, that it serves our interests, whatever that is and not the interests of the corporation or the government.”  In that regard I can understand Amazon delivering food to an immobile person who lives alone.

To reduce the risks of your personality being hacked, Harari suggests first getting to know yourself better and exploring your choices more deeply. Of course, someone who meditates two hours a day and doesn’t use a smartphone is less likely to be hacked than someone addicted to their device he says. Then join an organization of activists for a more powerful voice in making society more resilient and less able to be hacked.

Harari and Harris emphasize, “They’re (corporation or government) about to get to you—This is the critical moment…So run away, run a little faster. And there are many ways you can run faster, meaning getting to know yourself a bit better. Meditation is one way. And there are hundreds of techniques of meditation, different ways work with different people.

You can go to therapy, you can use art, you can use sports, whatever. Whatever works for you. But it’s now becoming much more important than ever before. Protect yourself by getting to know your self.”   This sounds perfectly natural to me.

The National Day of Unplugging is March 1-2, 2019.  I say, “Why wait?”  How ’bout you?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Nature Teacher: Change

Look at the movement of the clouds

and understand

life is change.

Don’t waste your time

lamenting

things are not as they were

and will never remain so.

That is not the truth of reality.

Forever cannot be.

Look at the clouds

long stratus

puffy cumulus

and feel their struggle and joy.

Clear skies,

when things are going smoothly, no issues to deal with so to speak,

are also transitory.

Go with the flow,” others say.

The clouds already do.

 

Good Morning Mother Nature

One of my favorite morning activities is walking through the garden discovering what’s bloomed then cutting a basket full of flowers to become a bouquet.  Focusing solely on colors, textures and scents quiets my mind while the warming sun and cooling breeze brushing my skin soothes my HSP spirit.

Mother Nature offers this gentle good morning to anyone taking time to appreciate her splendid gifts.  Try meditating while creating a morning bouquet and see how you feel.  Refreshed?  Focused?  Rewarded?  At peace?  Grateful?

 

A bit overly ambitious this morning, I now have three bouquets to grace my kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.   How I love this time of year!

 

 

Digging with Orphans in the Garden

Digging in the dirt…unearthing rocks, weeds, my thoughts turn to life’s struggles…times my heart was breaking and I did not see a way out, a reasonable solution, how to get past the pain of the moment.  Not knowing what else to do, I dug in the dirt.  I weeded.  I carried rocks.  Pails of small ones, and wheelbarrows of large ones until I ached.  Ached so bad I could barely sleep but went back out and did it all over again the next day.  And the next.

Unable to remove the boulder that was there, and would always be there like unresolved abysmal hurt, I tried to conceal it.  Find a way around it.  Moving on, I cultivated the impermeable soil to breathe and grow while filling my thoughts with affirmations and new perspectives.  Taking time to nurture nature, nature began nurturing me.

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Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash

If you’ve ever felt dishonored or abandoned, turn to nature.  Love her.  Honor her.  Nurture her to soothe the soul.  She is always there for you.

 

 

 

Take orphans — or any neglected children — into the garden.  Create.  Nurture.  Love.  Watch them grow.

 

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Featured black/white photo (original in color) by Meghan Holmes on Unsplash.