Thursday, June 1, 2017

Water is the driving force of all nature. - Leonardo da Vinci


By definition water is a clear, colorless, odorless, tasteless liquid (H2O) - REALLY?!? 

Water - wonderful life-giving wetness – makes an arid land lush and cleans our perfect bodies.
Yet water sometimes devastates with tsunami strength. 

In mythology, water frequently represents the subconscious.  The meditative music of “Liquid Mind” is like a musical bath that  conveys me to a place 
of peaceful exploration.

Bodies of water draw us into themselves. Diving, swimming (or splashing), surfing, water skiing, all manner of boats beckon us into and around the unsurpassable clear, colorless, tasteless thing we call water!


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cherries

Life is just a bowl of cherries. – Traditional proverb


     Summer is cherry season, another reason to love summer. The sweet redness of fresh cherries is unmatched by any other fruit. Even the eating experience is an exercise in awareness – notice how your tongue finds the pit and pushes it to your lips, and then juice stains your fingers as you reach to your lips to retrieve it – the ultimate fun food! You cannot absentmindedly munch these scarlet treasures, you may choke and croak.

     A serving size of fresh cherries (1 cup) provides 3 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein, and 22 grams of carbohydrates (energy fuel). Cherries have been implicated for their positive health benefits relating to the brain, heart, and sound sleep. (If you are like me, you are asking how). Cherries are a source of melatonin which helps regulate our sleep cycle and protect brain cells from age-related damage. The red pigments in cherries have been found to decrease inflammation and inhibit plaque formation, both attributes that keep our hearts healthier.   

     Why is life a bowl of cherries? Life is seasonal. Life is colorful and leaves its stains on us as we journey through. Life is sweet but has pits and stems in the mix. Life should be lived with intention, not inattentively walking without minding the details. Then there’s the bowl – community – we do better together. 

Get yourself a bowl, fill it with organic cherries, invite a friend and take a walk under the open skies and relish the fact that you are alive.



Saturday, April 15, 2017

All paths end

When another walker leaves this earthly path it is as if the sun withdraws its guiding light. When our path darkens our pace naturally slows and our head bows forward painstakingly choosing our steps into uncharted darkness. We stumble on with swollen eyes and cheeks dampened with tears – feeling lost -even though the path itself has not changed. 
As our eyes adjust to the darkness, our heads rise to gaze into the night sky, that providing more secure footing. The constellation Capricornus illuminates such darkened paths with promise – according to Greek and Roman legends, it is the gateway to the Gods, through which souls pass to life eternal.  Although our individual path may be unchanged – we are changed forever by those who walked with us.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dandelions


It gives one a sudden start in going down a barren, stony street, to see upon a narrow strip of grass, just within the iron fence, the radiant dandelion, shining in the grass, like a spark dropped from the sun” – H.B. Stowe


Dandelions are vibrant, hardy, soft, and whimsical – a perennial, herbaceous plant that shares its brilliant yellow color, nutritious green leaves, and healing roots with us. 

Dandelions grow all over the world, like a tangible uniting sunshine. 


Although it has many attributes, my favorite stage of the dandelion life cycle when the flower changes into its white globular seed head – 
who of us has not made a wish and blown the tiny parachute seeds into the future?
 – this is childhood innocence at its best. 

Enjoy each dandelion that lines your path, allowing memories of carefree times carry you, as a seed in the breeze, toward your dreams.

Red Bud and Wisteria

All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible.
George Santayana


The Red Bud tree is the designated state tree in Oklahoma. Having lived in the Tulsa area for twenty-six years, each Spring the reddish-pink blossoms of the small deciduous tree prompts a cascade of memories from my time as a stay-at-home mom to my four children. It was a time in my life when I focused on providing a foundation for healthy living for my little family and little else mattered to me.

Now, in another stage of life and another geographical state - I remember the Red Bud as I embrace the Longleaf Pine. Yet it was the wisteria that welcomed me to my changed role. As I was walking along Jones Ferry Road, to a class at Carrboro Yoga, I was greeted by wonderfully fragrant air – looking to my right I spied the source of such an aromatic gift - cascading purple flowers, which I discovered to be wisteria. The encounter  instantly brought a smile to my face while simultaneously easing the tightness that had settled in my body from my admittedly frequent worries characteristic of a move away from the familiar to the unfamiliar. 

One of my treasure books, Loves Me, Loves Me Not: The Hidden Language of Flowers   by Peter Loewer confirmed my own feelings about Wisteria; the flowers send a message of welcome and stability.  The purple-lavender color is one of grace and beauty, respect, and admiration; it is no wonder just walking by and stopping to inhale the aroma of the wisteria propelled me on my path as a happier traveler … forever going toward a healthier body, mind, and soul.



Friday, March 10, 2017

Romantic Love


True love is made of four elements: loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. -Thich Nhat Hanh

"Love is a living, breathing thing. There is no need to force it to grow in a particular direction, if we start by being easy and gentle with ourselves, we will find they are inside of us, solid and healing.
- more of T H Hanh

I find it difficult to improve upon Hanh's words. Experience has shaped my thoughts about what constitutes love. The objects of my love (romantic, family, friendships) differ widely and yet the basic tenets are the same. I am learning ......




cashew snack

Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live in.  -unknown

I made a snack for my granddaughter Violet's baby shower. I wanted to nourish her mother and indirectly her growing body.  

I mixed equal amounts olive oil and tupelo honey (1/4 cup each), together with light gray celtic sea salt (1 T plus 1 t), and powdered cayenne pepper (2 t). I relished the sight of the colorful syrup as I poured it over 4 cups of organic cashews. I smiled with satisfaction as I coated each cashew with the sticky goodness - my hands glistening -  as the half moon fruits lay on the parchment paper that covered the green baking sheet. Delightful aroma filled my home as the cashews roasted for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Why this mix? 
The cashews are a good source of monounsaturated fats (heart health), copper (to aid iron absorption for the developing brain), and magnesium (bone development).
The olive oil is again a source of  good fats (brain, skin, heart health). The tupelo honey has a light sweetness that offers an immediate and sustained energy boost for Zarah, Violet's mother. The cayenne is known for it's stimulating effect on digestion.
The grey celtic salt, beyond its crystal like subtle beauty, contains sodium (a major component for muscle and nerve development and iron).



Sunday, March 5, 2017

Dancing






Dancing is poetry with arms and legs. - Charles Baudelaire

I have discovered contra dancing, and what a treasure!  Contra dancing came into popularity in England in the 17th century. John Playford is credited with publishing a series of books describing the dances and music, the final printing had 900 dances. Through the years the dance has incorporated Scottish and Irish influences with various levels of complexity with crossovers, interweaving, and partner changes but maintaining the long lines and plenty of partner swinging and twirling. Contra dancing is popular still - with live music and callers, it is an aerobic play land that provides non stop smiling.

I recommend you find a dance in your area and give it a twirl for the sheer enjoyment as well as exercise.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Our treasure lies in the beehive of our knowledge. We are perpetually on the way thither, being by nature winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind.  -Friedrich Nietzsche 



I am immersed in research. My topic concerns the physical complications experienced by someone who is over 65 years of age, has diabetes, and is obese.   I have spent weeks accumulating information and now I am trying to write a scholarly analysis of what I have found.  My experience is reminiscent of the words of Benjamin Franklin; the doorstep to the temple of wisdom is knowledge of our own ignorance.  The basic facts of prevention and treatment,  eating a whole food healthy diet and exercise, is buried in theories and medications and I find  the truth in the words of Albert Einstein,  Knowledge of what is does not open the door directly to what should be.

As should be apparent, your present health habits are indicative of the well-being, or lack of, that you will experience in the future. Diseases do not suddenly develop; as with walking – we do not suddenly arrive at our destination; we go one step at a time. Health is build one decision at a time – a fresh apple instead of a cookie for snack; a walk after dinner instead of a nap on the couch. It really is that simple. Choose to walk in the direction of health – the alternative is surely disease- even in the knowledge that we return to the earth as dust someday, why not journey with strength? Using your gathered knowledge, make decisions that ignite your imagination and stride! 

Let every dawn be to you as the beginning of life, and every setting sun be to you as its close.
- John Ruskin








There are few experiences in nature that give a sense of hope as a sunrise does – reminisce of a new beginning. Conversely, few experiences in nature give a sense of completion as a sunset does — an imminent conclusion. 

Nature offers a visible daily timetable with few rules, each day is clearly defined with an introduction and a conclusion; the middle is left open for ideas to spark creations, like a good research design.

May we all live our lives in such a way to add sunshine and health to all.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Your Body as Art



Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.    - Vincent Van Gogh 


Think about art. 

 Think about your body.

Your body is pliable, like clay, and full of contours.  It is a canvas, to adorn with texture and color.  But unlike finished pieces of art, your body is alive. 


                 As long as we live, our bodies can and will change. 
                 We do not have to be slaves to our present state of health; we have within ourselves         the ability to change. 


Use inspiration from nature and your imagination to transform your clay - your body - into a collectible vase that will rival the beauty of the wildflowers it holds. 

Migration

I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate. – Van Gogh



                            Migration is a marvelous annual event. 

Thousands of birds leave the security of familiar territory, prompted by genetics, to embark on a wanderlust journey south. Hormones within the birds trigger an appetite change that compels the feathered wonders to eat grains and seeds.  Why?  Seeds and grains are a perfect mix of fats and carbohydrates that provide a consistence source of sustained energy for the journey. 

                We may learn a couple lessons from the birds. 

Eating flaxseeds, pine nuts, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds provide us with sustained energy for our unique journey.
                                   
Leaving the familiar is imperative for a sunny and healthy life.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Changing location


The moment of change is the only poem. – Adrienne Rich



After living in Oklahoma for twenty-six years I moved to North Carolina, I was compelled to find new paths to roam.  Gone were the familiar trails of Oxley Nature Center and the friends who often accompanied me in awe and exploration – those paths have been replaced by the steeply winding trails that are nearly solid with tangled roots from familiar (but much taller) trees.  At first, my walks were solitary, but not lonely, the mystical music of Karunesh bathed my thoughts with serenity and enhanced the truth of fresh air and autonomy often found in solitary exploration - I could smile.  Soon, I joined Meet Up hiking groups and found my walks in nature enhanced by introductions to new people, ideas, and trails. 


The best poems express experiences, philosophies, and passions. Poems are brief, compared to other forms of prose, as are most walks in nature, compared a typical work day.  Poetry becomes enchanting when it is understood and transition becomes joy when it is accepted. 

Sometimes I cannot resist stretching out my arms, lifting my face to the sky, and spinning around in  the ecstasy that comes from embracing change.

When was the last time you indulged yourself in a joyful spin ?
 



Monday, January 30, 2017

Patience


Patience is a virtue, virtue is a grace, put them both together and have a very pretty face. 


 Remember this childhood rhyme?It did not make a lot of sense to me as a young child but it stayed with me and  I repeated it to my daughters. The words flow off the tongue with a sing song charm making it easy to remember and recite from generation to generation.

Patience embodies composure, equanimity, and humility. Emerson said, Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. 
Mountains take approximately 13 million years to form - little by little - the plates stretch and crack to form a fortress of majestic beauty. A purple coneflower takes approximately 12 weeks from seed to bloom, its comparably fragile beauty impressive in form and color.  The audible persistence of nature is a classical analogy of patience. 

Emerson's declaration and the childish limerick are reminders that patience is a force; inclusive in its definition is the ability to suppress restlessness and diligently pursue a path of health.





Saturday, January 28, 2017

Change

To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.
~ Henri Bergson



The changes in the woods are startling – the vista available during a cool winter  hike is unparalleled for clarity of detail while the relative quiet speaks of rest. In the spring the creatures of the wood are alive with activity and beginnings - the leaves are fresh, the creamy white dogwood trees and the aptly named redbuds are in full bloom. The summer appears to rest in the glory of being complete - the trees envelop us in green shades and rich scents warmed by the sunny air bath us in bliss. The fall wood begins a transition to a quieter time - the foliage releases in a glorious display to reveal the foundation of the trees themselves - naked but strong.

I once desired only to live in summer but now I understand that the transience of the woods mirrors life itself. Comprehension and acceptance enable graceful change. I sometimes fail to notice, acknowledge, or accept my own changes, to my own detriment.  Keeping a journal is one method that has enabled me to embody and reflect on change. 

May we share our insights as we travel our sunny and healthy path to health.






Inspiration from Amber

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do… 
Explore.      Dream.      Discover.       -Mark Twain



I found myself fidgeting with my golden hued amber ring as I was walking this morning. The fossilized resin stone caught the sunlight and gave me a feeling of incredible balance. It was as if I were transported into the intangible realm of dreams that was at once calming and energizing.  Amber is warm and earthy – in nature it has a rich honey-like scent that has been replicated in oils and perfumes.
It is not surprising that my amber ring would inspire a grounding imagination - considering its origin.  It is a tree resin, not a precious stone.  It serves to protect the sap (the fluid that circulates through a vascular system of a plant to nourish it) from disease and injury perpetrated by fungi, insects, and external injuries (like broken branches). In mature trees, the resin may ooze from vertical fissures in the bark due to tension produced by rapid growth. Indirectly, the amber is reminisce of the healing balms available to us in the form of beautiful sights, healing touches, and encouraging words when our lives are perpetrated by unwelcome changes. Knowing we have these systems of healing, what is preventing us from exploring, dreaming, and discovering?
Mark Twain’s home spun wisdom and amber native strength – together provide me inspiration to walk a sunny and healthy path. What inspires you today?


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Depression

Depression opens the door to beauty of some kind.  -James Hillman 




If we live long enough we will all experience sadness (depression) in our lives. It can turn our steps into robotic like movements or immobilize us completely in its terrifying compression of light. 

Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation, articulated well the experience of depression: 
That's the thing about depression [sadness]: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she [he] sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it's impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key. I have always viewed fog as enigmatic and dreamlike, yet if it never lifted with the suns gentle hand, it indeed would be terrifying. 

Michael Schenker, a German born musician, captured the essence of sadness with his statement; Depression is something that makes you lose your sight. However, depression perhaps gives us a different way of seeing - it stops our sometimes mindless routine – forcing us to determine the cause and create an escape. Sadness is not a place to stay, but a visit may prove valuable.


In his book, Spontaneous Happiness, Dr. Andrew Weil states that research confirms that one of the positive benefits of depression in creativity.  Song writer Richard Marx said, I'm happy, I would say that I'm one of the happiest people I know but I've certainly had periods of profound sadness, depression, and heartache and those are the kind of things that are interesting to me to write about

My experience has inclined me to agree with the American psychologist James Hillman who declares that depression (profound sadness is more descriptive to me) opens the door to beauty of some kind. 
I cannot believe otherwise and continue walking along a healthy path.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Honesty

No legacy is so rich as honesty.   -William Shakespeare 




Being honest is a basic life lesson but difficult to maintain as life lengthens.
Zig Ziglar said, Honesty and integrity are absolutely essential for success in life - all areas of life. The really good news is that anyone can develop both honesty and integrity. 
Honesty is the bonding agent of relationships whereas dishonesty unglues the union of all relationships. All sacred texts speak of honesty. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another ².

I have observed a dichotomy between our relationship to our bodies and behavior. Who among us cannot recall a conversation with someone who recited exemplary dietary or exercise routines yet the figure sitting before us did not resemble the narration? DISHONESTY
I daily interact with people of various diagnoses; a recurrent discussion theme is questioning how they succumbed to the disease process or actually blaming others for their situation. I hope my face does not reflect my skepticism as the poor lifestyle choices are often obvious (I hear your protest, I know there are exceptions). A look at our plates or midsection; our skin or our teeth - a head to toe scan – are we making the best choices to promote our health? BE HONEST

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.³ a healthy path is one in which we extend honesty to ourselves, accept responsibility, and keep walking.

¹The photo is of a European plant called honesty. The round, flat, translucent seedpods are used for indoor flower arrangements.
² Ephesians 4:2
³Proverbs 10:9

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Royal Jelly


Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Learning is the beginning of spirituality. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins. 
-Jim Rohn


I like when I find research* that supports a health habit that I have adopted based on experience but little substantiating information. Royal jelly has been a health food store staple on behalf of anti-aging for over 50 years.  Much of the information supporting its health promoting attributes has been antidotal.  Its popularity has been inconsistent, often dependent on the current infomercials which unfortunately stained its reputation with unrealistic promises and inflated prices. Nevertheless, Royal jelly is the food of queen bees that is harvested like honey from the hive. Its rich chemical make-up includes a rare fatty acid (10-HDA), protein, minerals, and B vitamins.¹ Royal jelly is 67% water, 12.5% protein, 11% monosaccharaides, 5% fatty acids. It also contains many trace minerals, some enzymes, antibacterial and antibiotic components.² Several years ago, when I was working at Akin’s Natural Foods in Tulsa, Oklahoma, an 82 year old gentleman told me that he had been using Royal jelly daily since he was a child. His mother reportedly used it to help manage his asthma and he kept the habit throughout his long life. I listened to his words as I marveled at his flawless, wrinkle free skin.  Royal jelly has been attributed to increased collagen production that promotes healthy skin, occasionally Royal jelly can be found as an ingredient in cosmetics.  It was then that I began adding a teaspoon of royal jelly to my daily routine - a decision I will carry on as I continue walking my path to health.

Research:  Effect of royal jelly ingestion for six months on healthy volunteers Morita H, Ikeda T, Kajita K, Fujioka K, Mori I, Okada H, Uno Y, Ishizuka T Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:77 (21 September 2012)[Abstract] [Provisional PDF]
1 Herbal Research Foundation

2 Wikipedia

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Snow

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.
                                                                                    - Aldo Leopold

Snow,
A rarity in North Carolina.


A time to play. 
Turn off the TV news. 
Don't drive. 
Walk.
Climb trees.

Don't panic. 
It melts.

Enjoy the land.


Persevere

The bluebird carries the sky on his back. 
                                                                                - Thoreau




Balanced Eating

Eat to Live, Don’t Live to Eat


Food fuels our body so that we can live our dreams. Unfortunately, the bounty of processed food available to most of us has contributed to a society of overfed and under-nourished people.  Excesses strain the body – arthritis, cancer, heart disease – and insufficient nutrients lead to imperfections – skin disorders, depression, and fatigue.  


Here is a simple technique that can make a balanced diet easy to achieve.  Picture a plate – now divide it in half (50%).  Fill this side of your plate with energy building, mood lifting, immune strengthening fiber rich carbohydrates – fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  Now take the remaining half and divide it in half (25% each). Fill one section with brain building, skin softening, fat-rich foods – like, avocados, nuts, and olives. The remaining  section has enzyme producing, brain boosting, and muscle constructing protein rich foods – like, soybeans, tempeh, tofu. 
Got it? 

When your food intake is balanced and not in excess your body works for you so that you can focus your attention on following your heart on the path to your dreams.