Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I finally watched Eat, Pray, Love over the weekend during a self imposed chick flick movie extravaganza. I had not really heard positive reviews by people I know but one close friend made reference to the movie & my current life journey and ever since I have been curious what the movie is really about. I knew it was about a woman who was unhappy in her marriage and goes out in search of meaning but my interpretation of this is different from what I heard said about it. She is unhappy with herself thus in her whole life not just with her marriage. She feels lost and overwhelmed by the stereotype of what a married woman is supposed to do and want. I think this is a VERY TRUE life scenario but for most of us admitting this seems wrong. I adored/adore my husband and I love that I was married to him and in a relationship with him for 18 years at his passing but I admit that I had those same feelings of being lost early on in our marriage. I never expected to get caught up in my adult, married life like I did then. I thought I had to keep a tidy, organized home inside & out no matter what. I/we had to work our tails off to be able to afford that home and all it entailed. We could not spend our hard earned money on things we wanted but we had to spend it rather on things we "needed". And we did these things, well, my husband did not conform as much as I did. Thank God! That caused some tensions. I remember one day off getting out of the shower and looking at my feet and noticing that my toenails were not painted. I just started crying like a baby. I have always kept my toenails painted red, always. That along with my red lipstick was kinda my thing. I got out my polish and started painting them immediately and spent the rest of that afternoon thinking about what was wrong as I was cleaning the house, on my day off. That was part of what was wrong. I had free time and I was using it to clean the damn house and instead of thinking about what was right I was worried about what was wrong. I resented it totally yet it was my idea to buy the house. I , too, like the girlfriend in the movie, bought little baby clothes and kept them hidden not because I was waiting for Paul to be ready to have kids but because I felt the presure that this is whatI am suppossed to want. I did not want kids and niether did Paul. We discussed it and decided to just leave it open. I later found out that I could not have them and that was a weird relief and sadness. I gifted some of the things to my great niece. I was lost to myself and honestly I think many women live this way. It is not the fault of the men we married, hopefully. This is not true in all cases but, well, I will keep the examples to my situation. My husband married a woman who wanted to be a poet and was very optimistic in here outlook on life. I went to college and worked full time yet still had time to go out several nights a week to see live music, usually he was in one of the bands, I had fun friends and spontaneously moved to California eventually with him. I wanted to travel and speak French in France one day. I also wanted to follow him around on tour and watch him on stage playing in front of a large crowd. Now I just wanted someone to clean the house for me and take me to dinner. I lost that twinkle in my eye and I knew it. It was not until serious illness hit us both that I got it back. My zest for life returned after my life was almost taken from me at the ripe old age of thirty five. Then my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Hello,wake up!!!! We did not put our things in storage and head out to Italy, India & Bali but we did something similar. We acknowledged our stuff and released it with light & love. We tried new things like QiGong, T'ai Chi, meditation, painting and a new dietary path. We made new friends on a similar path. We looked for God and found him/her within ourselves. We cleared out those spaces in our minds and let the universe or God come rushing in and we stopped trying to control it all. Life works so much better when we let go and simply trust in ourselves which means trusting in God. So yes Paul and I went on our own Eat, Pray, Love journey together but also individually. We were never happier and he put out a cd of his music and we both got poetry published. We got those twinkles back in our eyes and we fell back in love in a BIG way with each other and with ourselves.
We lost some people along the way who did not understand that this was our journey. After he passed I was scared but you know I was not lost. I continue to live this way. The scenes that I love most in the movie are when Julia Roberts and her friend are at the airport and her friend tells her that she was hard on her because while she loves her job, her man and her kid she wants to go with her and then she tells her she loves her and is proud of her. There are people that were in my life that I wish I could have that experience with. I also love when Julia is describing the ruins to her exboyfriend and says something like ruin leads to transformation. Tell it sister because that is so true in my experience!
I loved this movie and it made me realize that I love my life even now after my husband passed.
It is hard without him but I do believe he is with me more now than ever just in a different way. Paul is my guru, my greatest teacher!

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I want to talk a little about juicing. I have blogged on this topic before but it seems appropriate again this time of the year. I juiced veggies everyday for 2 1/2 years for my husband. Since his passing I have only done it a hand full of times. This morning I got the juicer out and filled a mason jar and just the act of making the veggie juice felt good. I get organic veggies delivered every other week. It is much more economical for me to do this. Even the individual box is more than enough for me. So as I woke up I was thinking how I really needed to do something with the greens & beets in the fridge before they go bad and I decided to juice them. Now optimally a juice is made with fresh veggies especially if it is going to be drunk by an individual living with an illness. However when you have an over abundance of vegetables at home juicing them is a great option. I advocate juicing veggies over fruits although if you want a fruit juice it is better to make your own because with little exception most juices on the shelves are full of added sugars and fruit juice is basically sugar on its' own. I do believe in adding an apple, pear or kiwi to a strong green juice to cut the possible bitterness. Juicing vegetables allows us to get a wide variety of them in our diet and the juice is usually pretty bioavailable or easily absorbed. This make it a great option for those who need to get the nutrient nutrition fast like those with serious illnesses. In a glass of juice "the concentration of nutrients in juice without the bulk of the vegetables allows ingestion of a much larger amount of enzymes and other raw-foods nutrients than if the vegetables themselves were eaten." It is suggested that they are drunk 30 minutes before a meal to avoid digestion interference. The thing lacking from juice is the fiber. Not the case if you have certain types of juicers like the Vitamix. Now of course it is always a great idea to add the juices to an already whole foods based diet where whole veggies are being eaten so one is getting the fiber in their diet. This means you drink your green juice and eat your salad optimally. It is not an either or game. Juices are a great snack. Fruit juice should really be a treat and not a regular part of the diet. "an eight ounce glass of fruit juice has the fruit sugar of several pieces of fruit and is rapidly absorbed; the body must immediately metabolize this sugar." So limit the fruit juices and when you do make them they should optimally be seasonal. I think I have only made 2 fruit juices since I started juicing. To get started all you need is a juicer and some mason jars. If you are just beginning I do not recommend going out and buying the most expensive machine you can afford. You want to make sure this is a practice that you will enjoy and there is a bit of a learning curve to doing it. These are important considerations before investing in a more significant machine. We started off with the Jack LaLane juicer, went to a Breville and then spent the money on the Omega. I do definitely note the differences between a centrifuge and masticating juicer and find the masticating juicers to work much better and to extract more juice from leafy greens. A masticating juicer uses an agar to crush the veggies and squeeze out the juice. Also no heat from a motor will kill off the enzymes in this type of juicer. The centrifuge juicers utilize blades and a motor and spinning action to extract the juices. I think the Breville juicers are great to begin on and are, in my experience, easy to find. a simple green juice can include any of these ingredients: romaine lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, parsley, dandelion greens, celery, cucumber, kale, 1 small green apple or pear. I also like carrot juices with red beet. I call that a pacific sunset juice because of the brilliant colors. Adding cinnamon to a carrot juice is another tasty idea. Ginger and lemon give juices a kick too. Of course organic veggies and fruits are best used. If you can't use organic than you need to peel things like cucumbers first but the leafy greens need to be organic. Basically, you experiment to find juice flavor combinations that you will enjoy. I do not have kids so I cannot speak to this being an easier way to get them the nutrients in the vegetables or not. I know that they usually enjoy helping make the juices or at least the friend's boys that I lived with for awhile did. I would omit the strong stuff like ginger to begin with for kids and maybe make a simple green juice with more cucumber in it for sweetness. Enjoy & have fun in the kitchen and playing with your food. the quotes I used are from Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine by Ronald Schmid

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Easter Reflection

This week has been a roller coaster but the one thing that has been flashing its' bright lights in my face is the fact that my spiritual beliefs are pulling me through. I will start by saying that I grew up Catholic, went to a Catholic grade school, Christian Brothers high school and a Jesuit College. My parents have a deep faith, they were not bible thumpers, my dad could name all of the books of the bible and give specific quotes from each though. They converted from Baptist to Catholic before I was born. Many of their friends when I was growing up and still today were people that they met at church when they converted. So I remember dinner parties that included a priest and a mass in the home before dinner. As I got older I started having questions about the religious part of being Catholic and all of the dogma. My parents supported my questioning but we were Catholic...that was that. I began noticing people who I saw in church and who professed a deep faith acting & speaking in ways that were hypocritical. Now, nobody is perfect & I don't expect anyone to be but it bothered me a lot and fueled my questioning. So basically I just stopped practicing and did nothing. I believed in God but not so much in many other things I had been taught. I was well into my 30's when it became apparent to me that I needed a spiritual path of some kind. I was the victim of a serious health issue that almost took my life. Frankly, it is a miracle that it did not. My doctor's told me that. My mom and dad prayed for a miracle everyday and when I woke up and later was able to leave the hospital my mom told me that it was the miracle they had been praying for along with many other people and prayer groups. I believed that it was a miracle that I was alive and that those prayers helped make it so. It renewed my belief that there was a higher power. One that was not looking at me as a sinner but as a being in need with a lot of determination to get better. So, I kind of wanted to find something again. Then wham, bam, my husband was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. This shook things up for both of us in just about every possible way. He did not grow up with any religion really and had asked me lots of questions about it in the past which was kind of shocking but he too wanted and needed to find a spiritual path that fit now, we both did. We discussed many options. As one of my close friends would put it we were shopping for a belief system that fit us and what we believed in. One day my husband told me about a meditation group that he had been told about and he thought we should check out. We had started meditation as a stress reliever and therapy for both of us during some pretty difficult times. We really did not know what to expect but what we found was amazing. This group was not just a meditation group. They practiced Zen Buddhism under the teachings of Tich Nhat Hahn. Paul & I felt comfortable there and with the teachings. They suited our beliefs and our new lifestyle. We became regular members of that Sangha. When Paul began to get very sick our teachers and fellow Sangha members were there to support us. when he passed our teachers went out of their way to support me in every imaginable way. They led his services which were perfect and beautiful. When I relocated I joined a similar Sangha in my new city and have fallen in love with each and every member and the practice. Without this spiritual path I could not be where I am in my life today. Without my Sangha I would be lost. I have never believed that one religion or belief is right or wrong and I still don't. I do not care if someone is Muslim, Hindu, Baptist, Catholic, Buddhist, Pagan, etc. I just believe without a doubt that a right (for you), positive spiritual path is essential in our lives. It makes us whole. It is open minded. That is where I believe so many get lost in their spirituality. An open mind fosters a spiritual life. Miracles...they happen everyday. They really do and so many times we do not recognize them. There are reasons that things happen and there is freedom in being able to turn to your spiritual beliefs for comfort or to have something to trust in. I separate spiritual beliefs from religion and religious dogma. I enjoy certain rituals and celebrations just like most people do but my faith does not reside in them. My faith resides within myself and the high powers. I encourage everyone to really consider their spiritual sides because they are a huge part of who we are. Explore them and have fun. Become connected and become whole as we are meant to be. It does not matter if you find that in a church, temple, on a meditation cushion or outside in nature. Just find it don't deny it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Time to cook!

So I just made a comforting Spring dinner on a rainy, overcast evening in the Pacific Northwest. It is a version of Buddha Bowls that I talked/typed about in previous posts. Boil up some brown rice...you know the amount you need for your dinner chop up a large garlic clove or two & set aside saute some asparagus & mushrooms destem a handful of Kale cut up an avocado get out your Tamari or Shoyu and some sesame seeds In a sauce pan I lightly sauteed one bunch of asparagus in water & a spoonful of coconut oil. I like my asparagus crunchy not soggy. This also allows me benefit from the mass amounts of nutrients that asparagus contains. Toss in the mushrooms and saute on low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes. Cut up your avocado and toss it in a bowl with your torn or chopped kale leaves and chopped garlic. When the rice is ready mix that into the bowl with the avocado, garlic & kale now top with asparagus spears and mushrooms. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and Tamari or Shoyu. Enjoy. I like to make enough for leftovers. Asparagus is a great source of folic acid, betacarotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. The last 3 are phytonutrients that are important antioxidants. Kale has high concentrations of sulfur compounds that aid the liver in producing enzymes that neutralize possibly toxic substances. Like asparagus it contains phytonutrient antioxidants like zeaxanthin & lutein. It has high amounts of Vitamin A & K. Garlic contains a sulfur compound called allicin which promotes antioxidant functions and acts as a serious antibacterial and antiviral agent that when taken with Vitamin C helps to kill off harmful microbes. The stronger the smell the stronger the the health promoting qualities. In this case stinky is great! This is such a great time to be in the kitchen because certain veggies are coming into season and our windows and doors can be opened to air out the winter staleness. So start shopping the early farmer's markets or your local produce isle and take some produce home, open a window and start creating healthy meals.