I just started reading a book called 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' by Barbara Kingsolver and even just a few pages in it's already fantastic! So far it reminds me a bit of 'The 100 Mile Diet', another eye-opening, informative, and fun read. I love that the desire to feel connected to our food and to the land we live on is becoming such a powerful force now. So many people are wanting to eat local, organic, and to grow some of their own food. I love it! Not only is industrial farming not sustainable, but I think we have such a strong need inside of us to feel that sense of connection and to have a relationship with our land and the beautiful plants that come from it. When you nurture and care for that land, putting effort, sweat, and love into the relationship, it's impossible not to appreciate, enjoy, and feel grateful for the deliciousness and sustenance that come out of it. The land needs us, and we need it too. And we ourselves come from it as well, dirt and all :) I can't wait to see what the future will bring, and to get some hands on farming experience myself too!
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Well, today is the last day of May! And what a stunning way to finish the month off - it was another gorgeous Sunday that drove people outdoors, unable to resist the urge to soak up the sun, splash around in the ocean, and eat an ice cream cone :) It's amazing how much the weather can effect us, I think I've said this ten billion times already, but it's so true! All we need is a burst of sunshine, some blue sky, and we're good to go.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Wow, June is almost here! What a beautiful Spring we're having - when the world is bathed in sunshine like this it's almost like being in Fairy-land :)
I got to experience the more practical rather than theoretical side of stress due to an end of year oral exam at school, but of course all turned out well and good. It reminded me again of how stress is all about perception - we build things up in our minds and worry, but when the time comes for action, we always turn out just fine...maybe even a little bit stronger and more capable because of the experience. Here are some of the things me and my classmates tried to get through the exams calmly and smartly :)
- Aromatherapy: sniffing on fresh rosemary and lavender, or using the essential oils
- Bach Rescue Remedy: the drops can be taken internally, it is great for stress and works very well for animals (pets) also
- Meditation: as much as possible leading up to the event, and especially the evening before and/or the morning of - this is great for getting grounded, centered, focused, energized, and relaxed
- Deep Breathing: this is the easiest and the most important one - breathing deeply activates the parasympathetic nervous system, thereby stopping and reversing the stress (fight/flight) response of the sympathetic nervous system. Basically, it makes you feel cool, calm, capable and ready to face anything!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Now that the sunshine and summery warmth are here, time seems to be flying by extra quickly. At the same time though, sunny days are my favourite for slowing down, relaxing, reading a good book outside, and just lounging about, reconnecting to the world and to yourself.
It's as though the light is meant to wake us up, motivate, and inspire us to rekindle our passions and joys in life so that we can pursue them fully, even if the winter was extra long and dark, taking us farther from our dreams.
Spending time outside, with the sunlight glowing all around you, birds singing, a gentle breeze lapping around..."clutter" type thoughts cannot help but melt away, leaving room for deep tranquility and contentment. It makes you realize how perfect everything already is - there is no struggle, just the resistance we create for ourselves. Life in the world unfolds, seemingly without great effort, in every moment. Flowers bloom without worrying about the future or past. They bask in the glory of Now, and the birds sing along. All this life around us is like a gorgeous symphony, and we have the choice to join in and feel the bliss of life as it is right now, or to escape the magic of this moment and retreat to the familiarity of struggle and resistance. On beautiful days like this though, it is nearly impossible not to sink fully into the loveliness of the moment, and bask in the light like a singing bird :)
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
If it makes you happy, just go for it :)
Tonight I'm reporting to say that not only will I be watching a good two hours of television, but out of all available shows my choice will be none other than American Idol (gasp! the horror!). My name is Lucy and I am a proud Glambert - as soon as I accidentally stumbled upon one of ever glamourous Adam Lambert's performances, I could not tear my eyes and ears away.
Adam has transcended the show's boxy constraints and blandness, bringing passion, charisma, thrilling theatricality, and extraordinary singing abilities into the game. His performances have been more like stunning mini-concerts, and it is wonderfully refreshing to see someone fearlessly expressing themselves for all to see, without trying to fit into a safe, restrained mold.
I think that's partly why Adam has become so popular and celebrated even by non-Idol fans - not only does he let his beautiful voice loose, but he also captures people's imaginations by being so free and earnest and creative. He puts on a show, but the theatricality and visual perks are always grounded in sincerity and a kind of innocence. I always love it when people embrace their inner natures and bring them into the world to flourish. Being yourself is the most inspiring and glorious thing that you can ever do.
Whether he wins or not, I cannot wait to see more of Adam singing his soul out and sharing his passion with the world :)
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Over the glorious long weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting Reifel Bird Sanctuary for the very first time. The scenery along the drive there was very quaint and relaxing just by itself; once we got to the sanctuary I felt like I was in paradise. There were birds to be seen even while standing in the parking lot. Greenery, water, beautiful views surrounded us on all sides and I was very eager to get on the path and enjoy a bird-watching + hiking adventure :) It's amazing how different the world feels when you're immersed in natural beauty, listening to a symphony of birdsong.
At first it was hard to see any birds, even though their pretty voices were all around us. Besides ducks and geese, the first bird I saw was the lovely, elegant swallow. They were flying in all directions, basking in the sun :) After hearing the distinctive sound of a blackbird, I saw a big red-winged one for the first time - beautiful! I also saw a sweet, cute wren (like a puffy ball with wings!) and some other birds the names of which I cannot keep straight in my head :) There were several types of ducks, adorable baby geese, graceful blue herons, and last but not least, a Sandhill Crane. This extraordinary creature was having a meal right on the footpath so everyone got to see it very close up - it's huge! And so unlike any bird I've ever seen, I loved it! There were signs saying to be very careful around them as they can become aggressive when protecting their young or their territory; however, this glorious being was just peacefully snacking at the time.
I absolutely loved this place from the second we got there, and will definitely be going back! We walked for over two hours but it felt very short and I would have been happy to stay and nap in the fresh air and beautiful surroundings...with the birds :) Their singing was incredible and quite soothing :)
It would be nice if we had even more natural sanctuaries for all living creatures, including humans. Sometimes after a busy day in the city, I feel such a yearning to retreat into peaceful, lovely nature to rejuvenate and feel connected with life again. Somehow, being in nature makes me feel more like myself, more grounded, free, uplifted, and inspired :) Hooray for Mother Nature! And birds!
Friday, May 15, 2009
A wholesome diet based on natural, whole, fresh foods should provide plenty of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals; however, we are all very unique and there may be times when we need extra amounts of some specific nutrients. Stress, in particular, puts extra demands on our bodies. Eating a vegetarian or vegan diet also means paying special attention and taking care to get a good balance of all the fantastic nutrients we require for vitality and optimal health.
One important vitamin that people commonly become deficient in because of low stomach acid, stress, and/or a diet low in animal products is vitamin B-12, which unfortunately is not found in any plants. We need this vitamin for cell division and the production of red blood cells. Insufficient amounts can result in fatigue and anemia. Besides helping to keep our blood nice and healthy, it is also crucial for a well-functioning nervous system AND for happy moods :) A vitamin that helps give us energy and makes us happier is definitely one to appreciate :)
Where does B-12 like to live? In most animal products, such as liver, beef, pork, white fish, eggs, and milk. I always recommend eating organic foods that are free from antibiotics, growth hormones, stress hormones, etc. Meat from small, local farms is usually tastier, more ethical, and more affordable than buying organic from a supermarket.
For those who do not eat too many animal foods, a B-12 supplement may be a good option. For strict vegans, it is usually absolutely essential. The best way to take B-12 is in a sublingual tablet that dissolves under the tongue. It should be in the methylcobolamin form, which is the one that is active in the body.
Summertime is just around the corner, and what better time to reconnect with our bodies and take extra care to nourish and nurture ourselves so that we can frolic outdoors and fully appreciate every breath of fresh summery air!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
And now for a bit of a lighter, fruit-based post :) I have to report that the rhubarb-strawberry crumble/crisp was a big success. We used plenty of strawberries and rhubarb, about 1/4 cup brown sugar, whole wheat flour, rolled oats, cinnamon, and butter and it was absolutely delicious! The fruit was moist and tender and the topping was crisp and flavourful. Having crumble fresh out of the oven has to be one of the best things in life :) And the kitchen smelled like cinnamon for at least 24hrs, yummy :)
I would post a picture, but the crumble was eaten before I had a chance to capture its beauty for the rest of time :)
I've just started reading a new book for class, it's 'The Maffetone Method: The Holistic, Low-Stress, No-Pain Way to Exceptional Fitness' by Dr. Philip Maffetone. Exercise tends to be a pretty emotionally charged word - we live in a society that is obsessed with fitness, looking good, and achieving perfection, and many people take this to heart and hurt themselves in the process, while others feel imperfect, guilty, and inadequate. Now, I am making some sweeping generalizations here, but I think most would agree that, overall, it is not common for people here to have the healthiest of relationships with their bodies and with "exercise".
The first thing I would like to bring up in regard to this topic, is the idea of differentiating between 'fitness' and 'health'. This is something I read about near the beginning of the book, and it really struck a cord. Just because someone is training hard and looking fit and toned does not actually make them healthy! The author defines health as "a state in which all the body's parts, including the muscles, nerves, bones, hormones, organs, and glands, are in balance" whereas fitness is "the ability to be physically active". Okay, so this seems pretty straight forward and common sensical. And yet, look at the cover of any health or exercise (yoga type) magazine and you'll see a picture of someone who looks like they train three hours a day and could be a professional athlete. The kind of professional athlete that may have the muscle tone-y appearance of health, but may actually be suffering from injuries and extreme stress. This may include physical stress (not enough rest and recovery time) and also the mental stress of obsessing over exercise and perfection and having to run so many miles in order to feel good about one's self.
Pushing ourselves to the limit and thinking that we have to "feel the burn" and train until we're quite tired and out of breath is probably not the healthiest, most balanced of approaches. It's just another example of how disconnected we can become from our bodies in the race for outer, superficial perfection. Or maybe it's not even about perfection and appearance for some people - instead it's another way in which Type A, productivity-based, fast-paced society is influencing our thinking. Instead of moving in a way that feels good and fun, we feel the urgency to push ourselves as hard as we can, and only when we are exhausted do we feel that we have accomplished something.
How do we end this war against the body and against the beautiful, perfect, lovable self? By reconnecting with ourselves and treating our bodies, minds, and spirits with love, respect, and deep appreciation. Our bodies do so much for us, it's absolutely incredible to think of the billions of things happening inside of us every second, filling us with life and energy and the potential to do whatever we want! It's important to reverse any negative thoughts targeted towards the body and the self, and to instead celebrate their inherent, innocent beauty :) By realigning ourselves and fully accepting and loving ourselves, we can experience the kind of bliss that no amount of push-ups can ever get you :)
Our environment has a huge impact on who we are and what kind of lifestyle we lead. However, it is of the utmost importance for us to re-embrace our wild, unique natures and to live our lives according to our hearts rather than external expectations and societal norms. The way it stands now, it is not normal to love oneself. It is also not normal to eat healthy fresh food and to exercise in a fun way that reflects one's inner light. By empowering ourselves and following our own wisdom and intuition, we can live truly blissful lives and make a positive change :)
Sunday, May 10, 2009
I love holidays that are all about celebrating the people in our lives! And mothers deserve a holiday just about every day :) Unfortunately, I did not win the lottery so I cannot buy my mum the spacious kitchen with lots of counter space and stainless steel appliances that she has always wanted...just yet :) Today we will celebrate by spending time together, enjoying this beautiful sunshine and all the lovely flowers, and maybe making some rhubarb crumble.
A friend generously gave us some of the rhubarb that grows in their very own vegetable garden, and the time has come to put this rhubarb to use. Now, I don't think I've ever actually tasted rhubarb before, so this will be a first not only for cooking it but also for finding out what it tastes like! The huge amounts of sugar in most rhubarb recipes are a bit ominous, but hopefully the flavour of the rhubarb itself will be delicious! And just the word 'rhubarb' makes me smile :) It's a fun one :) Happy Mother's Day!
Friday, May 8, 2009
And now it is time to sink into the present moment and contemplate the vast benefits of regular meditation :) In the past, this practice was mostly associated with particular forms of spirituality and probably wasn't considered to be a very mainstream activity in Western society. Nowadays, however, there is such a great need for stress reduction that meditation is becoming more and more popular, with classes and group sessions popping up all over the place.
Our society features many characteristics of the Type A personality - fast-paced, competitive, time-crunched (with a constant sense of urgency), highly active, and aggressive. We are encouraged to always be productive, on the go, always push ourselves to the limit, even if we are sick, tired, or constitutionally not designed to function in such a way. In order to survive, many people rely on stimulants such as coffee, refined foods, energy drinks, cigarettes, and medications. This may give you a temporary energy boost, but it is like borrowing money that you do not have - later on you will feel even more tired than before. We can only borrow so much before crashing and arriving at full on adrenal exhaustion. While proper sleep and nutrition are absolutely essential in order to balance things out a bit and edge towards the side of health and vitality, meditation can also be a beautiful, grounding, rejuvenating part of our day that helps us to not only survive, but truly thrive in a world that can sometimes feel overwhelmingly hectic and stressful. Even people who are not super stressed can benefit greatly from integrating some meditation into their day. Here are some of these wonderful benefits:
- Stress Reduction - meditation lowers oxygen consumption, decreases respiratory rate, increases blood flow, slows the heart rate, normalizes blood pressure, decreases muscle tension and headaches, reduces anxiety, leads to a deeper level of relaxation, activates theta brain waves, lowers levels of cortisol (stress hormone)
- Brain Function - increases serotonin (the 'happy' neurotransmitter), detachment from thoughts, stillness of mind, improvement in concentration, increased creativity (arising spontaneously in the moment when the mind is quiet), deeper understanding of self and purpose
- Physical Health Benefits - helps relieve pain associated with certain illnesses, helps in chronic conditions like allergies and arthritis, enhances the immune system, helps with overall healing
Neuroscientists have also found that meditators actually shift their brain activity from the stress-prone right frontal cortex to the calmer left frontal cortex, and that there is also less activity in the amygdala (where the brain processes fear).
Meditation is free and anybody can do it. The easiest way to start is to find a quiet, comfortable space and to simply focus on your breathing for a few minutes. I also like to do a body scan at least once a day - this is when you either sit or lie down and gradually concentrate on different parts of the body, allowing them to relax and letting any tension melt away. I start at my feet and move upwards. This exercise is also great for getting back in touch with the body. Raising our awareness of the body and reconnecting with it is essential to overall health :)
I could go on and on about this topic as it is especially fascinating :) Meditation is so special - not only does it provide physiological health benefits, but it can also lead to great personal and spiritual growth. Mind, body, and spirit can all be integrated into this practice. Meditation can also mean something different to every single individual because it means going inward. However, it is also very unifying because it reconnects us to wholeness and grounds us in the earth. Even when the world seems overwhelming, meditation provides a centered place that is like your own rock - no matter what, it will always help bring you calmness, peace, and the power to accomplish anything you put your mind to!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
When Spring is here, but the sun isn't quite shining, and you have already splashed around in the rain, what do you do? There are plenty of indoor activities to enjoy at this time of year. Here are a few suggestions that always get me excited!
1) Cook or bake something that you have never tried before. I have a stack of recipes that I have put aside but I like to have some extra, unhurried time to make them happen, rather than trying to cook something completely new after a long and busy day in the big world. A rainy day provides the perfect opportunity to experiment in the kitchen. Try making a Spring pea mint soup, stuffed roasted tomatoes or portobello mushrooms, banana coconut & lime muffins, turmeric potatoes with lemon & coconut, parsnip and coconut soup, pecan chocolate ripple cheesecake, etc, etc, etc.!!! Now I'm officially hungry :)
2) Do something crafty and/or "old-fashioned". We all have the potential to be able to sew, knit, paint, hammer, and do things ourselves, rather than buying everything pre-packaged, generic, and often disposable. A scarf that you make yourself will keep you much warmer and cozier come winter-time! And it will carry all sorts of lovely memories, like the music you enjoyed while knitting, the conversation you had with your friends and family, the way your cat played with the yarn, and the sense of accomplishment you felt after creating something with your own two hands.
3) Read a fun book. This can be done while sitting in the softest of chairs, possibly by a fireplace, with a big mug of herbal tea by your side. It seems like we don't have solid blocks of time to read anymore, so why not take this opportunity to pick up a book that really appeals to you and feel all your stress dissolve and melt completely away. It does not have to be Dostoevsky - anything that makes you happy will do :)
4) Why not try meditating? This practice does wonders for our health and stress levels. There has been much research done on how meditation helps to lower blood pressure, raise serotonin, improve digestion, and much more! I will posting more on meditation later as it is such a wonderful practice and so easy to integrate into day to day life - you can meditate anywhere, anytime, for however long you want! It is one of the best things for lowering stress and promoting healing. An easy way to start is just by focusing on your breath and letting any thoughts drift away like clouds in the sky :)
5) Do whatever it is that you love passionately but never get around to because of work, household chores, kids, school, etc, etc, etc. It is so incredibly important for us to follow our hearts and do what we absolutely love in this world. It seems like everyone is bogged down with endless To Do lists that form the structure of society but do nothing for the happiness of its citizens. Our first responsibility is to remember our wildness, freedom, and individuality and to live it as fully as we can! By being our selves we bring love, light, and meaning into the world :)
Friday, May 1, 2009
Apparently it is very true - April showers bring oodles of May flowers! In some countries May 1st is an official holiday so people can run outside and play if they desire to do such things :)
Here, we may not be celebrating an official holiday, but we are enjoying a day that feels as warm, nourishing, and joyful as the peak of Summer! Dig out your sandals and short shorts!