Musings on healthy living

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October is Om Month

I love to read, and my absolute favorite kind of book to read is what I will call the “experimental memoir”.  Basically, if you decide to do anything unusual for a finite amount of time and then write about it in a way that is amusing and thought-provoking, I will  be wildly entertained and thrilled to share the journey.  I have read about individuals who have bicycled across America, done something every day that scared them, cooked their way through a Julia Child classic, searched for a new best friend, read an entire Encyclopedia set, and lived literally by the Bible.  Why do I like these books so much?  I suppose I want the payoff – the wisdom and growth and self-awareness that will surely arise from these unique vehicles of discovery.  There’s something captivating about observing someone who does something extreme.

It suddenly occurred to me:  why just read when I can do?   I’ve overhauled a lot of different areas in my life, but the one thing I’ve been talking about for years yet never remotely committed to is meditation.  I think that’s sort of funny – I can do anything except sit and do nothing!   I’m going to embark on a challenge to meditate for at least 15 minutes every day in October.  For the most part, I’ll be trying to clear my mind, but I am also going to tackle a sort of deconstructed metta practice.  Metta means loving kindness, wishing others well, or “boundless friendliness”. Per the traditional stages of metta, week one I will focus on myself.  Week two I will focus on my dearest loved ones.  Week three I will focus on acquaintances.  Week four I will focus on people I do not like.   Week five I will focus on the entire world.

I’m certainly curious about what this experience holds in store.  I hope to be more mindful, more calm, more compassionate and more empathetic.  I hope to feel interconnected.  Thank you for listening, for holding me accountable, and know that I will be thinking of you, saying “may you be happy, may you be well, may you be free from suffering”.


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The Novelty Factor

My husband Chris and I recently went on vacation to Seattle and Glacier National Park.  We only had one day in Seattle, a city to which we had never been, and packed it full with all the things we wanted to do and see – Pike Place Market, of course, and the Space Needle, but also the EMP museum which has interesting pop culture exhibits and KEXP, my husband’s favorite radio station.  In the middle of the day we took a rest and just laid down in the middle of a park which is something I always mean to do at home but never do.

Then we went on to the park, and even though we have been to many national parks at this point, we were truly awed by the majesty and beauty of Glacier.  It is just incomparable.  I believe turquoise lakes nestled at the bottom of snow-capped glacial peaks may be my favorite landscape of all, and the wildflowers, big horn sheep, and mountain goats tipped the whole scene over to being just ridiculously perfect.  All the hikes we did found me in almost a state of befuddlement as I attempted to process the idyllic scenery as well as its history and evolution.  That’s the understood advantage of traveling – the “newness”.  You’re seeing things that are different than they are at home.

When Chris and I first got together, 13 years ago, he hadn’t traveled really at all.   When we started traveling together, I found him to be anxious, and he tended to rely on me to figure things out, which I didn’t like.  This impression solidified in my mind into a static aspect of his personality:  Not a Good Traveler.  On this vacation, I was jarred to realize that Chris is infused with energy, eagerness, and initiative when he travels.  He is intrepid and his only “anxiety” is to see as much as he possibly can!   He thrived on the novelty of it all…and I finally noticed.  And I stopped seeing my husband as he was 13 years ago and saw him as he is today.

On the flip side, I have a terrible habit of being so inspired during our vacation that I start planning future vacations.  I sometimes am not very good at being in the now.  On this trip, as we were hiking in Glacier, Chris remarked, “I’m proud of you!  You haven’t once brought up the future.”  I was thrilled that Chris noticed and affirmed my efforts to be more present (something at which he excels) instead of assuming I would remain mired in my old pattern.

I loved Seattle, and I loved Glacier, but I think the greatest gift of our trip was that I saw Chris anew, and he saw me too.

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Go Slowly

I recently learned that the standard Chinese goodbye translates to “go slowly” (much as we would say “take care”); I love this.  It makes me think about how we embark on change and want the sped up movie montage of improvement (with an amazingly perfect song for background music, naturally) instead of being kind to ourselves and allowing for organic transformation.

I began adhering to a Paleo diet in March. I’m not going to speak to what that entails in depth because the information is already out there if people are interested.  For me, I don’t focus as much on what I can’t have (although this is what bystanders tend to latch on to) but am more focused on simply eating as many different fruits and vegetables in a day as I possibly can.  I continue to do this because I have consistent energy all day, stable mood, clear skin, deep sleep, and a calm tummy.  It’s that simple – yet it has also been a time-consuming and expensive lifestyle transition.  It likely would not make for an arresting movie montage.  But whether we’re talking about a diet (and don’t we all want to eat a little better?) or virtually any other aspect of life, I think patience and compassion for ourselves is key.

Tomorrow, if you feel like making a change, why not tackle breakfast?  This is one of my favorite meals, but also one of the hardest I find in which to incorporate vegetables.  That’s why I am so excited about this new recipe I tried.

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As showcased in my breakfast from this morning, I present the zucchini pancake!  This is an easy and fast recipe (assuming you have a food processor for shredding the zucchini; if you don’t have a food processor, get one!  You will ask yourself how you went so long without.  I have a Hamilton Beach model from Amazon that was maybe $35).   It’s savory, is an easy way to get a vegetable serving at breakfast, is portable, and reheats really well.  I think kids would probably really like them as well so long as the little flecks of green weren’t a turn-off!  If you have a giant zucchini sitting in your kitchen and mocking you, as I did, this is a great way to use it up.  This recipe is from Diane Sanfilippo and is also included in her excellent cookbook “Practical Paleo”.

Also, as Diane points out in the introduction to her recipe, these pancakes could make a really tasty burger bun substitute. We may try that tomorrow night for dinner.

Whether you try eating a better breakfast or an entirely different goal, I wish you success, and

Go Slowly!


Beauty Tips

I haven’t been wearing make-up lately.  At all.  I would like to say something articulate about that choice, but in many ways it’s essentially me stomping my foot and saying “no fair”!  I don’t feel that women should be held to a different standard than men and require a face of cosmetics in order to be deemed professional or attractive or groomed.  I balk at the consumerist and patriarchal notion that I need myriad products to “conceal” and “enhance”.  But, I’m also nearly 35, and my 30s have given me many gifts, among them a greater sense of confidence and less need for approval.  It’s not that I feel gorgeous, but I feel healthy, whole, and grateful.  I think about how I want to make people feel, and I want people to feel relaxed in my presence, and heard, and I want them to see kindness and attention.  At this point, how I look frankly feels beside the point. 

Yesterday morning at work, I had just taken my first client back to the treatment room and engaged in a few minutes of consultation with her as I had not seen her before.  She asked how long I had been practicing massage therapy, and I spoke about my experience and concluded that I loved my work.  She responded, “Yes, I can see that from your face”.  I considered this one of the greatest compliments I have received.  Letting go of obsessing over my “looks” and focusing instead on what I can exude through my eyes or smile has made me far more content.  

This made me think of a (portion of a) great poem.  It’s widely attributed to Audrey Hepburn, but she simply read it; it was actually written by Sam Levenson.  

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone.