Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Everyday Dharma

This week the Dharma talk we had at Sangha (the Buddhist community gathering one practices with) basically taught that we do not need to look to attain beauty, enlightenment, happiness, etc. because we already have these things.  We need to see them within ourselves and stop looking outward for what already exists inward.  I have heard these teachings before but this week they really spoke to me which tells me that I need to practice with them.  Since Paul died life has seemed like a tornado of sorts.   I have welcomed it many, many times as the distractions I need/needed to survive this physical world without him by my side.  I am moving forward and most days feel great and can honestly say that I am happy..most days but not all days.  The moments come and they hit hard.
I had one on my walk this morning.  Something triggered my memory into a bunch of things revolving around his last few months of life as we know it.  I was going over details and beating myself up for not recognizing certain physical things that seem so obvious if I look at a photo from that time.  How did I not see what was happening?  What was it that allowed us to continue to laugh, take that trip to the cabin, argue about directions and my driving abilities in the car on the way there, take our daily walks, and enjoy life while his body was shutting down?  I never lost my positivity that he was going to beat the cancer, we were going to beat it.  I realize now that in so many ways we already had beat it.  Our lives together those last few years were AMAZING!  We were happy despite what was possible because there were two possible outcomes and we were so intently focused on the positive one.  I can say this now, although it is difficult and there are tears streaming as I type, the outcome we got was/is a positive one.  Paul went through all kinds of HELL with cancer.  I did too as his wife who just wanted to fix him and take it all away.  He also WOKE UP to his life and lived it like many songs and poems say, there was no tomorrow.  I feel like we both did.  We were partners.  I am doing my best to live the same way but my partner is not here and that makes it hard.  I know I have what it takes to do it.  I don't know why I know it but as Paul would say "don't question the how".  So, I don't.   Well, I try not too anyway. 
Because of my beliefs I can see the positive in his death most days but not all days, yet.  His energy is free and that is a BEAUTIFUL thing. I was told by an energy healer that I see that he doesn't need me any more.  That was difficult to hear but I needed to hear it.  She also pointed out that I need me.   Yes, I recognize that I do and I recognize what a gift that is to be fully present for myself.  The Buddha teaches that we already have everything we need.  I just need to sit with that as does everyone. We need to see it in ourselves and be the channel for that wisdom.
So on my walk today I felt the need to take a different route and as I walked and the memmories and tears and questioning were getting overwhelming I turned a cornor and written on the sidewalk in green chalk it said "don't forget to be awesome today".  That made me smile and I thanked Paul and the universe for my walk.  It was my Dharma teaching for today

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Raw Chocolate Mousse

Perfect Chocolate Mousse
Living Cuisine by Renee Loux Underkoffler
1/2 cup pitted soft dates
3-4 tbs. maple syrup
1 tbs. cold-pressed coconut butter (optional)
1 1/2 tbs. non-alcohol vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups mashed avocado (about 3 med. avocados)
3/4 cup raw carob powder
4-6 tbs. cocoa powder (or additional carob powder)
Soak dates for 5-10 minutes to soften. Drain soak water and set aside. In a food processor blend the dates, maple syrup, coconut butter & vanilla until smooth. Add a few tbs. of the date soak water to aid in blending. Spoon in the avocado and blend until smooth adding more date soak water as needed. Spoon in the carob & cocoa powder and blend. Serve. It can be frozen to serve as an ice cream like dessert.
The coconut butter is optional but I always add it and I like to use an organic grade B real, pure maple syrup. This is great topped with pureed berries. ENJOY!!
Some of my favorite dessert recipes are from raw foods prep. books.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Eat your Vegetables

OK people I want you to get serious about your health. Spring is in full swing and summer is right around the cornor. Those farmer's markets are calling your names. These are just charming boothes but opportunities to choose fresh, local, seasonal and preferably organic foods. These are all very important to our health as well as to the health of our planet and the lively hood of those hardworking people growing these foods. Fresh picked local veggies and fruits, etc. offer more nutrients than those that were picked several days or weeks or longer ago that have to be trucked in. Same for meats.
I can think of no better way to spend my Saturday morning or whatever day and time than to go to the farmer's market and smell the fresh foods, see them, talk to the farmers, ranchers, etc. and eat. Well, if the market were across the street from the Pacific Ocean that for me would be paradise.
It is recommended that a person with cancer gets at least 5 servings of vegetables per day. I want us all to get that because prevention is key in this disease and all others. Let's not wait until we get sick to eat healthy. That kind of thinking is not a good idea. I know it seems like a pretty tall order to get five servings of veggies a day. I agree to an extent. The easiest way I know how to do this is to make homemade veggie juices. I just made one with carrots, beets, swiss chard and celery. I filled half a mason jar. I might not drink the entire thing today but it will be good tomorrow. The juicing took maybe 10 minutes. Every house should have a juicer. Of course you still want to eat the vegetables but making a few juices each week is a great, nutritious way to get those veggies into your diet. Juices are susceptible to oxidative damage and nutrient loss so making them at home and consuming them ASAP is definitely preferable to buying them in the stores. It is so easy to do and I know a few kids who love to help make them and come up with their own combinations to try. I find that if they get to participate they will at least try it.
I prefer vegetable juices to juices high in fruit. Fruit juices have high concentrations of sugars. Some Veggie juices do too like the one I made today. If you need to add sweetness to a veggie juice try a small green apple. This is what I do for green leafy vegetable juices. However, broccoli stems add sweetness. Cucumbers also cut the bitter in most veggie juices.
There are many types of juicers on the market. The most available and cheapest are centerfuge juicers. These use blades to extract juice and the motors tend to be located in close proximity to these blades allowing the juice to get slightly warmed from the heat the motor generates. Masticated juicers are a bit more of an investment and in my experience are a little more difficult to locate in stores. These juicers use a rotating agar to press the juice from the vegetables or fruit. I prefer this type of juicer. I love my Omega. I started with a Jack LaLane and went to a Breville but made the leap a few years back to the Omega. It all depends on how much you want to commit to doing this.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

New Beginnings

Tomorrow is Easter and to me that represents a sense of newness and starting over. Today, a dear friend whom is experiencing some life altering things asked me how I was feeling. It touched me deeply that she would ask but it did not surprise me. She and I are pretty connected.
It was interesting because today I experienced many things. I woke up to a bright blue, cloudless sky in Oregon. I had my Saturday breakfast at the farmer's market, one of my favorite things. I took a long walk and I listened to the last music cd my husband Paul bought for me. Then I took a deep breath and cried. It has been almost two years since he passed and my life got turned upside down and inside out. I am dealing with my new life the best why I can. I feel pretty happy and positive with everything right now. Honestly, most days I have no idea what I am doing. I find that this is ok because if I allow myself to trust in the fact that I am not in control and do not have to be because something/someone else is guiding me it all works out. Paul used to say "don't question the how" when I doubted something or did not understand how we could achieve something. I am living my life following his words and it is working. It is so hard to believe he has been physically gone for this long and that I haven't seen him in almost two years but everyday that becomes more and more real. My widow support group says the second year is the toughest because their being gone is reality as is the fact that we are moving forward in life without them. I feel this so deeply. Sometimes it is a stronger feeling than others. An example is that today I was reading my Nutrition sciences book for homework. As my head was about to explode with science I closed the book and thought how ironic it was that I, the one with a BA in English, was living in Portland now and studying to be a Holistic Nutritionist. The irony is that Paul was amazing with the sciences and math. He was a creative musician but he had a gift for the sciences. We both wanted to move here and make Portland our home and I have made mine, just me. I thought about that and said to myself it is about me now, this is what I am supposed to be doing and I am doing it. I am not to sure how but I am not questioning it. We survived my brain illness, we dealt with cancer amazingly and I am doing my best to deal with Paul's death and my new life. I am not questioning the how and I am trying hard to enjoy and make the most of the time I have left. I will celebrate new beginnings tomorrow. There might be a few tears shed but there will also be a smile on my face.
We all get lemons in life and it is up to us to make them into lemonade. My Buddhist practice teaches that we already have everything we need so own those lemons, let go of the idea of being in control, trust or have faith and make your lemonade. Happy Easter!!