Friday, October 29, 2010


The mornings are cold and crisp now as Fall settles into the Midwest. The leaves are changing colors and the smell of burning wood,leaves and earth are in the air. To me this is a sign of one of the most natural,peaceful times of the year. Life in the natural world is slowing down. A cold night and morning make way for a sunny but cool afternoon. The kind that you can sit outside for hours in a cozy sweater or jacket and just daydream. The squirrels and birds are also happily running and flying around looking for food and providing a lot of free outdoor entertainment. Fall represents slowing down and for me, especially this year, it represents preparation for my own personal changes as I am two weeks away from moving to the Pacific Northwest. My dreams of days like this in cozy clothes out in the woods with the aroma of wet trees and moss heavy in the air or in front of a fireplace are about to come true. I have waited four years and lived through many crazy,messy life situations for this new beginning. It is not happening the way I dreamt that it would happen by any means but as my late husband would say "don't question the how". It is happening! Another big change but at the right time! an I handle it? Yes I can. There really is not much that I do not think I can deal with at this point and I deserve this. i want and need this dream to come true. It will be I sit out on the front steps of our house smiling under bright blue skies and a calm breeze. I am a survivor! I am excited about my life including this peaceful moment right now.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Showing up

In Kris Carr's documentary film Crazy Sexy Cancer she speaks with a woman named Oni who has been living with breast cancer for 10 years at the time of filming. I love the things that Oni says and the spirit in which she says them. One of the things she says about herself and I paraphrase is that despite (having cancer) she still showed up. That got me thinking about my husband, Paul because man o' man could he say the same thing. Paul showed up everyday ready for the new day and open to whatever it might bring him. Some days that was going to the skate park to be the "old guy" there or riding his bicycle all around town. It also meant perfect motorcycle riding days around the old downtown airport and riding slow till a plane took off and then doing the Top Gun racing of the plane with his arms in the air (one of my favorites) and me on the back a little scared because who was steering but really happy to be enjoying that moment with him it also meant feeling like crap sometimes and doing nothing. There weren't too many of those days usually just after chemo. Whenever he was playing music, writing a song or recording cancer was the furthest thing from his mind. He recorded and released a new CD on his own during treatment in 2008. The smiles I saw on his face when a song was done or the whole project was finished are smiles I will never forget.
He continues to inspire me every second of the day. Sometimes that has to come through the veil of tears but it always does. I am so extremely proud of him and I vow to carry on and show up despite in his honor.
Everyone has something but it is so important to live our lives and not become a fearful slave to life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Food lesson

I am starting to get my food prep. cooking mojo back on. It disappeared for awhile after Paul passed on but due to an ahha! moment in the past few days it is back. This means I am revisiting some notes taken in some of the nutrition classes I have taken. My favorites were taught by a dietitian here in town working, at the time, for the University Hospital's Integrative Medical Program. S, I am going to pass on some of the information here.

Since it is Fall I thought I would start with pumpkin. It is high in Vitamin A. If I remember right vegans and vegetarians that means this is a great food source for us as well as everyone else. Vitamin A keeps inflammation down and helps with upper respiratory issues. It also soothes the mucus membranes making perfect for this time of the year. Butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots and orange Bell Peppers are the "sidekicks" to pumpkin. Canned pumpkin is more nutritious than fresh. I am working on converting a pumpkin, chocolate chip cookie recipe into a vegan version using carob chips, honey, and fresh made apple juice instead of sugar.
When i get that perfected I will put the recipe up. I am loving eating the "mess ups"!

Spinach is next. It contains chlorophyll(as are all leafy greens) which helps to bind to carcinogens and eliminate them. It is high in iron, calcium, B vitamins, zinc, plant based Omega 3's, magnesium, CoQ10 & caratenoids. It has been shown to reduce cancers of the colon, lungs, skin, stomach, ovaries, breasts & prostate as well as reduce heart disease and cataracts. Try adding it to an omelet, saute with garlic and Olive Oil as a side or meal(adding some mushrooms, onions & smoked tofu makes a great meal) use it instead of empty iceberg lettuce on a sandwich or in a salad.

Beans and Legumes some of my favorite foods. They increase iron levels and thus blood counts.
They are high in folate, soluble fiber for lasting energy and sweeping away bad cholesterol. They contain phytochemicals which supports angiogenesis(cutting off the blood supply to tumors). A good rule of thumb is to eat 1/2 cup at least four times per week. Black Beans are nutrient dense but red, navy, pinto & garbanzo beans are all good choices. Add them to a salad (my favorite thing to do with them), make a soup, add to grains or one of Paul & mine favorites make bean tacos or burritos. Beans should be soaked over night or in the morning before work throw them in some water to soak and they will be ready to cook when you get home. If you cook beans with some kombu it will release glutamic acid and leach the trace minerals into the water

Soy-the controversial food. Always make sure your soy product says NONGMO and try to avoid highly processed soy products like soy protein isolate, TVP, and excessive soybean oils. Soy is best enjoyed in its' traditional forms like tofu, tempeh, edamame, miso & tamari soy sauce. Tofu is high in all of the Amino Acids unlike meats and also in Omega 3's. try substituting tofu for meat once a week. There are versions out there that are preflavored with spices or smoked. Fake n' Bacon Tempeh is one of my favorite things. Just heat it and serve it like you would a BLT. Nama Shoyu is my preference in a soy sauce because it is unpasteurized but other than that similar to tamari. Soy does contain phytoestrogens making it necessary for some to avoid it. Just because it contains soy does not mean it is always healthy. Soy is one of the more highly genetically modified foods around that is why making sure it is NONGMO is important. There are also many highly processed soy products out there.

Garlic and onions... yum! They help increase good cholesterol and are antiviral & antibacterial. This time of the year they are a great food to be eating. Half to 1 clove per day can lower bad cholesterol by 10%. Onions are high in chromium which helps to control insulin and allow it into a cell. The yellow and red onions have more nutrients. For both onions and garlic you want to peel them and wait five minutes to consume them. The garlic needs to be smashed and onions chopped to release the nutrients.

Okay I will leave it there for now. As the seasons change so do the cravings we get and the kinds of seasonal foods that are grown. Eating with the seasons keeps us in balance and in harmony.
A great rule of thumb when shopping that another dietitian repeated constantly in her classes is that if Time Traveller would not recognize it than do not buy or eat it. There are a few things I buy and eat that time traveller would not recognize but the ingredients in them he or she most definitely would. I am thinking of the Field Roast patties and sausages and the seitan all made with gluten and legumes.

Happy eating!!!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I am not Fine

Over the weekend I took a writing workshop that was great. In it was a woman whom works with Hospice. She told us in one of our discussions that she had been told recently by someone who had lost a loved one that saying Fine when asked how you are doing means feelings I never expressed. I have thought about that alot because I get asked that question a lot. Well, I am not fine or ok. I am still heartbroken and missing my husband. I still pull the covers up on his side of the bed as if he were lying there and I take his sweaters down and smell them hoping for a whiff of his scent left over from last winter. I don't take walks like I should because all of the routes are walks we took together and I do not want to walk them without him. I watch way to much tv which I did not do before just to distract myself from the fact we can't have one of our nightly conversations. Here is my question How am I supposed to be doing? My best friend and life partner is not physically here any more and it SUCKS and it HURTS. This show tomorrow night that so many have worked hard to put together and that I have tirelessly tried to promote is happening as a memorial because Paul is gone. No matter how or what I believe it doesn't get easier. I don't want people to try to comfort me. I want Paul back but since that can't happen I just want to get on with it. Tomorrow marks 3 months and I am not fine and that is ok.

Lesson learned..again

Today I learned a very important lesson. It is one I already know which makes it even more significant. Even when we know things it is easy for us to "forget" or leave this knowledge behind. I awoke with a headache this morning. I went to bed with one last night. In fact I have had one for a few days. I was attributing it to hormonal and weather changes. Now if you know my medical history you know that for me headaches are not something to mess around with. I was kind of freaked out about this but kind of not too. I know my different kinds of headaches and recognize these as tension possibly sinus headaches. This makes sense. My life has been turned upside down and inside out in the last 3 months well, really, 3 years and at this time of the year in the midwest it can be 50 degrees one day and 90 the next. I like to believe that I have all the tools to relax and keep myself from being stressed out. Paul & I studied Jin Shin Jyutsu, meditation & T'ai Chi as well as many other things to attain balance, relaxation, good energy flow and self care. I do have the tools but I have not been using them. Paul's passing was so unexpected and unbelievable to me that I have allowed myself to stray a bit from what I know. I acknowledge the loss in my life and I am trying to move forward but in so doing I have come into situations that only add to the stress even though they are my ways out of it in the big picture. Going through bankruptcy is one of those things. My lawyer is great and I really like and trust her but it is a crazy thing to have to do. I don't regret doing it. I had to. I will be glad when it is over soon. Also going through our things or his things and deciding what to keep, sell, get rid of is tough emotionally. Even though these are just things they carry attached meaning. That process took it out of me. I stay up later than I was used to over the last few years and throwing off sleep patterns is not a good thing to do physically. It throws our organs off and they need a break from the day. I am drinking less water and more tea. Tea is ok but it has caffeine and that triggers headaches plus lack of water causes dehydration which triggers headaches. I try planning what to do on this day or that and well that does not work for me either. I have tried to learn to just walk with myself and the Buddha inside me. This morning I was reading a bit about tension headaches and that is most definitely what I have been getting. According to my reading more than 70% of all headaches are this type. The easiest effective treatment is relaxation. So I remembered a few physical therapy exercises to stretch those neck muscles and did those along with some Jin Shin and breathing, rubbed some Tiger Balm on my forehead and neck and laid down for a few hours and feel better. One of my furkids (cats) was sleeping with me and I watched him thinking I have alot to learn from my furkids. They just sleep when they need it. Anyone or anything can be a teacher. My point is that these are all things I know and have chosen to "forget" recently. Life situations give us great big reasons to neglect our well being but they we can not allow them to be excuses for it. Paul would be kicking my butt for this. So from now on I walk with the Buddha, my cats and myself in order to be healthy and rested instead of stressed and tired with big dark circles and a throbbing head. What is your life lesson this week?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Getting out of our heads/new thinking

Sitting in silence, in meditation, allows me to think in ways I have never thought before which means not thinking at all. Just being. How often do we give ourselves that gift of not thinking; turning off the monkey mind and simply living in the present moment? Allowing that to be our guide. We have been taught that we must know how it all works. This is the goal. Imagine what has gotten lost trying to achieve such a goal. Being open to possibilities and willing to trust in myself I have achieved abundance and a peace that is not measurable and comes with no price tag. I don't care about thinking things through. I would rather spend my energy getting through. If we experience something what is the point of thinking about it to much. In meditation my husband speaks to me because I allow him in; I make the space. I do not want to think about him if I can listen to him instead. It is all about honoring the present moment and opening to possibilities. We can always acknowledge the past. It does shape how we think after all but lets learn from the present without over thinking it.

I have never given birth but I have experienced death and they are the same to me. New life happens at both of these moments. My mind and heart have risen out of the murky lake of trying to define and contain life.
This is how I think in a way I have never thought before.