Saturday, November 26, 2011

What it's HONESTLY like to be a widow

Last Week I was asked what is was really like to lose my husband and if I actually did find comfort in believing that his spirit is always with me. I thought this was very gutsy and interesting because I do not know the woman who asked these questions well at all. It also got me thinking that a lot of people probably want to know the answers to these questions but think they should not ask so I am going to answer them in this blog.
The morning Paul died I was ripped in half. One part of me was taken away forever, never to be seen again and one part of me was still here. I had/have to figure out how to make it feeling incomplete. The pain both emotional and physical is indescribable. Yes I have physical issues as a result. Sometimes it literally feels like I am going about my business but something is missing. I double check that I have my wallet, my keys, my gloves, etc. and then I realize I am not OCD, I am missing my husband. As for the finding comfort in believing that his spirit is always with me, well yes, I definitely find comfort in that knowledge. However, I have a deep spiritual belief that affords me this. I do not think death is a bad thing. It is part of living and part of the circle of life. So I believe my husband has closed is physical circle as we all will at some point and is enjoying the freedom of the next life. I get signs from him constantly and I admit that I might make some of them up in my head but that is ok. I know he takes care of me and is with me always. I talk to him everyday, usually in the car. Thank God for the popularity of Blue Tooth and speaker on our cell phones so people driving by me have no idea that I am talking away to my dead husband. This comfort and belief is the only reason I get out of bed each morning. It would be very very easy to dwell in the muck & negative but that would be disrespectful to me and to my husband. We all die and if we fall in love with someone we are choosing to take the risk that one day we will loose them. The key is that one of us is still here and we have a life to continue living and we must live it. Our loved one wants us to.
Is love worth the pain, of course it is if it is true and real. That love & pain brings lessons and freedom that cannot be attained in any other way.
It is a choice how we deal with the passing of the ones we love and adore. It hurts and is sometimes unbelievable as much, if not more now, almost 16 months from the day, than it did the week after he died. But I see how far I have come and the miracles that have blessed my life and I know I can move forward positively with my husband taking care of me in a different way.
Being a widow is the toughest thing I have experienced but it has taught me who I am and who my true family and friends are. I would do anything, give up everything to have Paul back at my side in this world but that is not going to happen. I have to live with that everyday and figure out how to make that ok.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Raw Cranberry "Fluff"

Put away that can opener and give real raw cranberries a chance this year. I just whipped up an easy and yes, fluffy, cranberry dish without the heavy cream, marshmallows and cups of sugar. I did not expect to get a fluffy Pink/Purple result but it tastes awesome and is pretty to look at. I used Oregon grown cranberries because they are supposed to be sweeter and for me they are local. They are sweeter but still a little tart.
Any time you zest citrus it must be organic. I only use organic foods.
I just made this one up so my measurements are not to be followed to the tee. Do them to your taste. This is a good rule of thumb for any recipe.

You do need a food processor to make this recipe.

2 cups Oregon cranberries
2 cups walnut halves
1/2 to 1 tsp. agave nectar
1/8 tsp. orange zest (You know I did not measure this. I just grated it over the bowl)
Juice of 1/2 a large Valencia orange

Put all of these ingredients into the food processor with the S blade and process. You should start to see it all turning pink at the bottom. Stop and scrap the ingredients down the inside of the processor bowl. Do a taste test. Does it need a bit more orange juice or agave nectar? You can always throw an apple in there instead of more agave nectar. Start again on low and just watch it until you have a bowl of pink/purple fluff. There will be some chunks of walnut and maybe cranberries too. Do a last time taste test and then spoon it out into a bowl.
So good and so good for you! No more can openers necessary :}

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The concept of giving thanks should go beyond one holiday and be celebrated daily. It should mean more than pumpkin pie, although being thankful for pumpkin pie is a given, and eating to the point of having to unbutton our pants to be comfortable. Having an attitude of gratitude is a way of life and I know it has changed mine. When I get weighed down and feel like I am sinking I implore my attitude of gratitude to pull me out of the muck. I say out loud for the Universe, God, Higher Power whatever you call it, and myself to hear at least ten things that I am grateful for in that moment. It works every time. No matter how crappy I feel or how much of the short end of the stick I think I have gotten I can always come up with ten things, usually more than ten. I admit that I consciously look for them every day. I will give an example of my ten or so for tonight:
A few days ago I had a paper grocery bag full of glass that I was taking to a recycling area at a local store. This area is in the parking lot, a very busy parking lot. A homeless man was there and saw that I just had one bag so he let me go ahead of him. None of my glass was accepted because it was all tea bottles. I have no idea why that matters. So as I was walking back to my car with my bag of glass the bottom falls out and glass shattered every where. I had no idea what to do. The homeless guy saw this and came over with a broom from his cart and a piece of cardboard and started sweeping it up. He asked for nothing. I am thankful for that man.
Tonight I attended a vegan Thanksgiving potluck for 250 people. I went with some friends from my Sangha. We sat at a table with some lovely strangers and chowed down on wonderfully yummy food. I am thankful for this holiday event and the chance to spend it with friends and strangers. I am also thankful to have had four tables full of yummy, vegan food, no questions or snide remarks about why I won't eat the turkey.
I am thankful for my Sangha and the friendships that I have from it in my life. They are like my Portland family.
This morning I had breakfast with a good friend and we had a nice time just talking. I am thankful for this person in my life and our friendship.
I have a new great niece and another due to arrive any day. I am thankful for these adorable, new family members.
I am moving to a bigger apartment that I will share with a dear friend. I am grateful to be able to make this move in all respects and for my friend being willing to live with me.
My mom recently celebrated her 80th birthday. I am thankful for my mother and her unconditional love and support. I am thankful for her health. I am thankful that my family in Kansas City all got together to celebrate with her.

It really is not hard to walk around with an attitude of gratitude everyday. It is a choice. I say this very confidently because after suffering through a near fatal illness with a few lingering side effects, my husband being diagnosed with stage IV cancer and passing at the age of 41 and my dad passing on my birthday in between those first two events, I could very easily dwell in the muck. I chose a different path in dealing with these things and it serves me well.
Make a list this week and say it out loud as you eat your second helping of turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.
Happy Thanksgiving everyday!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What to do with Sunchokes

Today I decided to try something new that I know is a healthy food and have not eaten before. I chose the sunchoke. I have looked at them with interest in the grocery store but did not know what the heck to do with them. In studying the digestive system over the last few months I have learned that they are an important native North American food that aids digestion by providing inulin as a prebiotic to keep our gut flora healthy. I know that is not appetizing but it is important to our overall health to keep those good little buggers happy. I want to start using at least one good prebiotic food in my diet daily. I have seen a few recipes that call for using them raw but have not tried them. You can peel them if you want to but I did not. I have not found info. that says you cannot eat the skins. I think peeling them would be a pain.
*A word of warning. Some people get gas after eating foods rich in inulin
I am leaving measurements and amounts up to you as I was cooking enough for myself.

Sunchokes with vegan garlic, black pepper mayo

coconut oil
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
black pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt, drop the sunchokes in one at a time. Boil them until they can be easily poked into with a fork or knife. I boiled them for about 12 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 and coat a baking dish with coconut oil. Slice the sunchokes lengthwise and lay them in the oil. Put them in the oven to bake until they brown just a little bit, maybe 10 minutes.
Chop your garlic giving it enough time to rest for 10 minutes before consuming. This resting time allows the nutrients to be freed. Just an FYI garlic is also a great source of inulin.
Take the desired amount of veganaise and put it in a bowl with the chopped garlic and black pepper. Mix well.
Serve the sunchokes with the vegan garlic, black pepper mayo.

Try something new and healthy in your diet this week.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Everyday Gifts

Yesterday I met a real cowboy, seriously. To the disappointment of one of my of girlfriends and probably my mom too he was at least twice my age. However he was interesting and amazing to me. My day started off as normal as it always does and as lunch time rolled around I realized I was hungry and did not have much in my kitchen so I decided I would eat at Whole Foods. I considered asking a friend to join me but then I decided not to, I want to go by myself so I did. I was content to enjoy my lunch alone. The store was busy and the tables were filling up so I was happy when I snagged the last one, a four top. After about five minutes an older man in a cowboy hat asked to sit with me and I agreed. He seemed sweet and looked rugged like a cowboy would. We sat in silence for about 5 minutes which is unusual for me. Then a woman needed a place to sit so she sat down across from me. We all sat eating our lunches in silence for about ten minutes and then I had to break that silence. Small talk led to introductions and telling each other where we were from. The cowboy was really a cowboy from central Oregon. He trained horses on ranches and had lived in the state since 1964 by way of Illinois. Pretty soon the woman joining us had to get back to work so that left me and the cowboy to talk. He was a vegetarian, an energy healer and part Native American with a strong belief in the native American spiritual ways and the power of our energy. I had to smile to myself because I too am part Native American and believe strongly in some of the spiritual beliefs of my ancestors as well as in the power of our energy. I also thought it interesting that my solo lunch at Whole Foods turned into a lunch with strangers, one being a vegetarian, energy healing cowboy. He talked about his horses and about how he did energy healing work on these animals as well as on people and about the different forms of energy work he knew and practiced. We spoke about how we have lost culture in our society and respect for the planet and ourselves. We had a great conversation. He told me that he could tell I was a great spirit and that we had something in common when he sat down. Also, that I still had some healing to do and for me it would be free of charge. We sat there for a minute smiling at each other and he handed me his card and was off. I sat there thinking, wow this is no coincidence, this is a lesson and a gift. My mom always says you never know when an angel is around.
Today at yoga my teacher opened with some words of wisdom that were basically that we must honor ourselves and that means doing what is right for us and not pushing into what is wrong for us because we think we are supposed to be a certain way.
A few days ago I spent the afternoon with a great friend who said some words that were like a light bulb going off in my mind and heart. We were walking and talking and I was telling him how I had realized recently that I had allowed fear, anger and worry back in my life. My fear was about being alone and loneliness. He then commented on how I had friends so was it really a fear of no companionship or was it loneliness for my late husband. Duh, that seems so obvious when he said it but until he said it I had not thought about it. I have made some great new friends and have some great friends that I have known for a long time so no it is not a lack of people in my life that scares me. It is the fact that I miss my husband as he was in earthly form. Just understanding that lifts the weight of it and makes it easier to carry.
Also last night I saw a woman, an acquaintance, who is living with cancer. She looked fabulous and says she is feeling great. That made me so happy!!
Everyday is a gift and we never know when, where or from whom those gifts will be given.
Today I was told I was glowing and I had a spark. It is true! Today I feel ALIVE and so appreciative of my gifts and teachers. Today I am living "as if" which means I have faith in myself and in my power and that I realize that I posses everything I need to be happy as the Buddha taught. Today I accept my Buddha nature and I live my life "as if" with my mind and heart wide open.
I invite you to sit with yourself somewhere calm and free of distraction. Think about what you want for yourself. This can be anything but go deeper that materialistic things. Meditate on these for awhile and act "as if" you are them already. We must stop looking outside of ourselves and find a faith and power from within. It is innate!