Sunday, December 30, 2012

Born to Fly

You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dreams.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don't.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Just Juice: Beginner Basics

Yesterday I was trying to explain to my sister and a couple friends the difference between green juice and smoothies. I'm still a beginner at the whole juicing thing. My Omega juicer is a baby (so shiny and pretty) but I've figured out the basics. My sister is a very (very) busy mom who's experience with juicing in the past was one of a lot more work and mess than it was really worth. 

It can seem overwhelming at first. How do you put the juicer together? How should you cut the produce? Is there a special order to put them in? Won't it be a pain to clean up? This afternoon I photographed my daily juice making session. Hopefully this shows how easy it can be!

Today's juice was very simple. I used Cucumber and Celery as my base. You want to use a larger amount of those because they give the most juice. Spinach, Carrot and Ginger were added. I figured out with my juicer that I have to save some pieces of Carrot or Celery to put through after the Spinach to get the last of the leaves through.  It's little things like this that you figure out pretty quickly. 
The pulp comes out the end into it's designated container and the juice fills the other container. These came with the juicer so you don't need anything extra other than a glass to drink the deliciousness out of.
Eventually I may get a dehydrator so I can make crackers out of the pulp. Don't laugh. Over at Choosing Raw I see the amazing things that can happen with the leftover pulp(Juice Pulp Crackers). I've found some recipes for vegeburgers that use the pulp as well depending on which vegetables were used. You probably don't want Ginger pulp in your burger. Or maybe you do...I won't judge.

I put the five parts into a bowl to soak in the sink while I drink my juice. The cleanup is really not time consuming at all. I admit I was worried about it after seeing the huge mess and cleanup from juicers in the past.
 I like to add my chlorella powder for extra green nutrition, lemon juice and a little stevia.

Everything is a little better out of a wine glass don't you think?

Lest you think I've got this all down to an art form: behold the big green spill! It can be tricky to pour from the plastic bowl into the drinking glass when it's nearly overflowing with juice.  

So there you have it! Juicing doesn't have to involve a ton of scary vegetables. It doesn't have to take up a huge portion of your day to make and clean up. If I wash and cut my ingredients ahead of time it's even faster. I've found a lot of resources online for juicing ideas and facts. Explore on your own or check out a few I've enjoyed:

Choosing Raw : Gena maintains a beautiful website full of recipes and nutritional advice. Check out her Recipage for lots of great ideas.

Kris Carr : You may have heard of her Crazy Sexy Cancer documentary or seen her book Crazy Sexy Diet. This is one energetic woman who took control of her health and now inspires others to do the same.

The Wellness Warrior : Jessica is another woman who leads by example and is a source of continual inspiration and advice. She too had a cancer diagnosis that turned her life around. 

The Juice Nut : This site is more informational about juicing in general. A good extra site to bookmark.

Do you have any good recipes or general juicing advice for me? I'm still such a beginner! I'd love other tips to help me on my way. Please share!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas On Repeat

This morning I was thinking about how even perfect strangers are nicer to each other on Christmas Day. People in Los Angeles don't do a lot of smiling or saying hello. But today? Today strangers on the trail smiled genuine smiles and nodded. In line at the coffee shop, I heard a customer thank the employee for working today. A gentle sense of ease was over this part of the city and I'm guessing stretched far and wide. Family texts abounded and friends sent words of love. Grandma's were called and video's of nieces and nephews drunk on Christmas were deemed the "cutest thing ever". 

Why is today the day we all reach out with peace and goodwill toward men? Why can't we find the joy of Christmas all year long? I urge anyone reading this to make a commitment with me to count every day just as special as this one. It won't be easy, but it's well worth the attempt. Just don't look at me funny if I wish you a Merry Christmas in July. 

I'll leave you with my favorite snippet from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas:

He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. 
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. 
Maybe Christmas, he thought... doesn't come from a store. 
Maybe Christmas, perhaps... means a little bit more! 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Grinch Juice

I've had my new Omega Juicer for a little over a week now and I'm starting to get a little more adventurous. Today was the first time I've opted for a green juice first thing in the morning. I craved something as green as green could be when I woke up.  The day before Christmas Eve can be one of the most stressful days in the year for so many people. Are you one of them? Are you at risk for turning into a Grinch today? Before you head out for those last minute gifts, get energized the right way with vital nutrients that your body will thank you for. 

Grinch Juice
Medium(ish) Cucumber
3-4(ish) Celery Stalks
2 Cups(ish) Spinach
1 Cup(ish) Kale
1 Cup(ish) Dandelion Greens
1/2(ish) Granny Smith Apple
1 inch cube(ish) Ginger Root
1 Packet Stevia 
1 Tsp. Spirulina Powder
(side effects may include smiling and heart growth)

You'll have to excuse all those "ish's". I'm learning that juicing is not something you can measure exactly and that you don't have to! You can make your own Grinch Juice even without things like Dandelion Greens or Spirulina Powder. Do you have a Cucumber, Spinach and a Green Apple? I'm sure that would be wonderful too and just as green.  

If juice isn't your thing (my lovely sister Leah says it tastes like death), do something else for yourself today. Christmas is all about giving but don't leave out the most important person in your life...YOU!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Finding Your Portkey

"A Portkey is an object enchanted to instantly bring anyone touching it to a specific location. Most of the time, a Portkey is an everyday object that would not draw the attention of a Muggle. Travelling by Portkey is said to feel like having a hook "somewhere behind the navel" pulling the traveller to their location."

If you were given the task of picking one moment from your life to live in for eternity, what would it be? Can you pinpoint a moment that would be pure bliss for you to spend forever lost in?  Think about it. I'll wait....Okay did you find one? It's not easy is it. I bet some people have so many they couldn't possibly choose, while others can't think of one. 

Our Pod Club pick this week was Audio Dharma: "The Two Moons". This episode was discussing how our lives are overly busy (I'd guess never more so than the holiday season) but how we can find moments of quiet, of stillness and peace. The second moon was defined as one that is quieter and more luminous than the first moon. The speaker wanted to encourage listeners to look for ways to find that second moon more often.

How do you feel when you're busy? My symptoms are a tightness in my upper chest, shallow breathing, spinning thoughts leading to lack of perspective peppered with random aches and pains from angry body parts. How do you feel when you're calm? When I meditate I feel my entire body relax and yet maintain a focused sense of concentration. My thoughts run rampant as they will, but I feel a space between the thoughts and my true inner self. I feel the quiet.

Have you found a moment yet?  Would it encourage you to dig deeper for one if I told you it could be used as a magical device? A way to transport yourself from the overly glorified world of busy to that serene moment of wellness and life? 

(I have to make a correction of sorts to something said in this podcast. I think when the speaker used the example of the Horcrux from Harry Potter, she really meant Portkey. A Horcrux is considered dark magic and used by the evil to deposit pieces of their souls in objects in order to become immortal. A Portkey is a magical object used to transport from one place to another. I'm going with Portkey for this one.)(Stop judging me as a major Harry Potter fan. I bet you thought the same thing.)

My Portkey moment happened this year. I truly felt different after it happened and I go back to it nearly daily as a way to remind myself of what truly matters to me. It was beautiful. The whole universe opened up and my eyes were opened to the connectedness of everything and the peace that is possible for me. Happiness is an option. Letting go is okay, it's more than okay - it's vital.  

I'm not a religious person, still an atheist actually, but I could refer to this as a spiritual awakening. It's kept me searching for my own middle way to walk. Daily I'm learning to "stop the glorification of busy". I'm learning to slow down and smile more, to stop telling myself stories that lead to life dramas. 

I encourage you to find yourself a Portkey Moment. Start with what you have, even small moments of stillness will do. When you find the tightness settling in and your nerves frazzled beyond recognition, close your eyes and breathe and use your Portkey. Transport yourself to a place that is quiet, more luminous and truly peaceful. 

Pod Club is a weekly meeting of ears and the brains between those ears. Check in on Monday when Jill and I pick an episode for the week and give it a spin yourself. All podcasts are free through their websites or iTunes.  Come back for a visit on Friday (or close to it) to see what we had to say. Leah over at Soft Spiral joins us once in a while as well.  I'd love to hear what you have to say! Comment here or join us by posting your thoughts on your own blog. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Imagine Happy

Yesterday I found myself talking about the same thing most of us are talking about this week. Guns. As the discussion came to a close, my eyes filled with tears.  I felt lost in a world where killing and war are the only way we know. For a moment, I felt like I must be the only one in the universe who imagines a world where weapons don't exist, where war is not the answer. 

Then my heart opened up and I knew that I am far from alone. I know we are the majority...we are the dreamers of the dreams. 

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

- John Lennon

Monday, December 17, 2012

Falling Over...and Over and Over

I fell over. It's been happening quite a bit lately. Don't worry I'm not randomly collapsing on the sidewalk or tripping down steps. It's the headstand. Doing a headstand without a wall nearby to keep me from toppling over has been the best way for me to learn how to fall. A lot. Why do I keep doing it? Because once in a while I find my balance, raise both legs over my head and stop. If I hold my breath, I fall. If I let my eyes leave the focus point, I fall. If I get really excited about the fact that I've just achieved an unaided headstand...I fall. Actually, I guess I eventually fall every single time I do it. But that feeling of balance, no matter how brief, is worth the small bumps and bruises.

This evening was one of the more spectacular falls. I'm sure if anyone had been here to see it they would have gotten at least a little amusement out of such a sight.  I slowly got up and stretched a little more while I thought about what influences us to keep searching for that inner balance in life even when our daily lives knock us over at every turn.  Sometimes it can feel desperately impossible to get back up after a particularly nasty spill. But we do it. We can always get up again and keep trying. 

That's life isn't it?

The Two Moons : Pod Club

Today I'm asking you to take a chance on a podcast that might not be something you'd listen to normally. I promise you don't have to be a Buddhist or even someone who practices meditation to get a lot of insight from these Dharma talks. When I first started listening, I was only meditating for a few minutes once in a while and I still loved listening to these insightful talks. I prefer to listen to this one on my hikes. Being out in nature with words of wisdom flowing into my ears is the highlight of my day. Give it a try won't you?

Pod Club is a weekly meeting of ears and the brains between those ears. Check in on Monday when Jill and I pick an episode for the week and give it a spin yourself. All podcasts are free through their websites or iTunes.  Come back for a visit on Friday (or close to it) to see what we had to say. Leah over at Soft Spiral joins us once in a while as well.  I'd love to hear what you have to say! Comment here or join us by posting your thoughts on your own blog. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Alive Enough?

Breathing in, I'm aware I am breathing in. Breathing out, I'm aware I am breathing out. I'm alive, but am I alive enough? Do I live every day to the fullest? What about living authentically? Is it possible to be living this mindful, authentic, wholehearted life if I'm always giving some or all of my attention to my laptop or my smartphone?

This week for Pod Club we listened to On Being : Alive Enough. 

I've always resisted technology. I hold tightly to the old way of doing things. Holding a book and turning the pages cannot be replaced with a cold flat screen. Writing a letter with pen and paper to drop in the mailbox will always give me a satisfaction that my email can never allow.  I was the last in almost my entire circle of family and friends to get a cell phone. A few years ago, I was also one of the last to upgrade to a smartphone.  This week I finally retired my faithful iPhone 3G for the iPhone 5.  Last to join the club, but first to admit my addiction. I don't know what I'd do without being able to use my Mac and my iPhone every day.  I communicate mostly through email and texts just like the rest of the world. Clearly I love reading interesting websites and blogs that pertain to my interests and I love knowing I can find out almost anything I'm curious about. When I was a kid, back in the olden days of no internet, if we had a question about the world we had to look in books or ask other people. Do I wish things were still this way? No, not at all! I love that we can just "check the Google" on a whim. 

What we need is balance.

In this episode of On Being, Sherry Turkle quotes: "If we don't teach our children to be alone, they'll only always know how to be lonely".  We have a responsibility to the coming generation. They will learn by observing us how to put down the phone, take the earbuds out, turn the computer off and connect with each other face to face. We can't expect them to do it if we can't create boundaries with our ever growing technology.  

What we need is to disconnect in order to connect.

It's easy to be controlled by our online lives. Constantly checking our email and our social media accounts can suck so much vital time out of our day and what do we have to show for it? Real friendships or Facebook friends? Are we creating or just looking at other artist's creations? Are we thinking our own thoughts or just reading about other people's. I'm guilty of all of these. This year I signed out of Facebook and haven't missed it yet. I have to actually remember birthdays. I have to ask people what's going on in their day to day lives instead of checking their "wall".  I never have the ringer activated on my phone and if it buzzes or lights up with a text I don't pick it up if I'm doing something else. I wait, sometimes for quite a while, before picking it up to see what it says. This can drive people crazy, but it keeps my time on my terms.  I don't want to be a puppet at the mercy of my text messages and inbox. 

There's certainly a world of benefit to the technology we have at our fingertips. For example, we learn of news as it's happening from multiple sources. After a recent earthquake, I found myself frustrated to find nothing about it online right after I felt it. I think I had to wait ten or fifteen whole minutes before finding any reports of it on the internet! Twitter is opening up a world of first hand reporting all over the world by regular people. It can waste a lot of time, but it can serve an important function as well. Email is a wonderfully efficient way to communicate if we use it wisely. Watch out for those emails written in haste and sent off without a second thought. And please please don't ever hit Reply All unless you mean it!  

What we need to do, is carefully examine the benefits and drawbacks.

In closing, I'd like to give a little story about my new iPhone. Rob and I were driving yesterday from Los Angeles to Fresno and he was dying to try out Siri.  I gave in and found how to ask "her" a question. I asked what the weather was like in Fresno, she gave us the weather conditions for the next five days.  I asked if there were any vegan restaurants in Fresno, Siri said yes and listed three for me. What should I ask now? Rob thought for a second before laughingly suggesting I ask Siri "Who's your Mama".  So I did.  What happened next sums up my excitement and fear surrounding our future relationship with technology.

Me: "Who's your mama?"

Siri: "My mother?"

Me: "Yes"

Siri: "I don't need a mother. You are all the family I need"


Pod Club is a weekly meeting of ears and the brains between those ears. Check in on Monday when Jill and I pick an episode for the week and give it a spin yourself. All podcasts are free through their websites or iTunes.  Come back for a visit on Friday (or close to it) to see what we had to say. Leah over at Soft Spiral joins us once in a while as well.  I'd love to hear what you have to say! Comment here or join us by posting your thoughts on your own blog. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Clouds Fell Apart

I love the sound of rain. Tonight it began again and so I sit here listening to the swoosh of tires punctuating the stillness. In my mind I see a slate washed clean.  A new beginning. A fresh start. I want to hold on and find the same freedom in every moment of my life...a baby bird learning to fly as it tumbles out of the nest.

I wish the same for you. 

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver ~


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Weird Ways to Cheer Up

I have bad days. I've always had bad days. What? You too? Do you sometimes find yourself in a mid afternoon pit full of bad attitude and negative self talk? You DO?? What do you do to get yourself out of such a rut? I've been known to stay down there for days. Today was headed in that deep dark direction. Who am I kidding, I was sitting down there "hiding in my clothes" as Rob would say (this is when I wear a big hoodie and sweats and keep the hood on even indoors). Poor Rob finally convinced grinchy me to leave with him. He wanted vegan ice cream from our local little shop, Scoops, and by golly he was not going to be talked out of it. Grumbling and complaining the whole way, I was digging for quarters to feed the meter when Rob changed my life with these words "Hey, that's Weird Al". Yes folks, I confess I know most of the words to "Like a Surgeon" and "Yoda". I still quote the Movie "UHF" all the time. In other words, I love Weird Al and I was about to stand in line behind him and order my vegan treat with shaky hands trying not to stare. I wanted so badly to say something like "ohhhh, red snapper...very tasty!" but I'd tortured Rob enough for the day. So I just kept stealing glances until he left. Thank you Weird Al Yankovic for turning this girl's day around yet again. 

I have a few other weird ways to cheer myself up and as long as I'm confessing I might as well share!

~ I hang upside down off the edge of the bed or I warm up with some yoga and do a headstand. Turn that frown upside down, literally.

~ Go to Goodwill and search for the most interesting thing I can buy for under five dollars. Usually I leave with nothing but I've forgotten my troubles during the search.

~ Organize a closet/drawer/file/corner. Cleaning and organizing cheer me up. Don't judge.

~ Listen to an upbeat podcast like The Nerdist or The Ronna and Beverly Show.

~ I text or email a friend I haven't heard from in a few days to see how THEY are doing thereby taking my attention off of myself. 

~ I pin pictures of pretty places. It always gets me dreaming of adventure

Honestly, sometimes none of these things or anything else works and then I just try to have compassion for myself where I'm at until I can find my way out again. The worst thing I can do is berate myself for not being able to shake the depression. As my best friend, Jill, would say "It's okay to just feel your feelings". The last time I reached out to her as I often do during a rough patch, she very smartly told me to have good cry, take a bubble bath and make some tea. By the time I finished following her instructions, I felt better. 

What do YOU do to boost your mood?  Please share!  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pod Club : It's Alive!

Just Jill and I will be listening to On Being : Alive Enough for our Pod Club this week. It's an extremely relevant topic for everyone in this technological playground we live in.  I have lots to say about the whole issue of living inside electronic devices...but I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll save that for my Friday Pod Club report. 

If you live near a Trader Joes, please do yourself a favor and get some of their Candy Cane Green Tea. It's decaf so you can drink it all day long like I have been for the last few days. It's so good. 

Ponder This

Who's gonna ride your wild horses?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pod Club: Dreaming of Extra Credit

I'm typing this as I listen to this week's Pod Club pick from the show Risk. It's not holding my attention as much as usual because I have too much going on inside my brain. The stories are comical personal experiences which can only be background entertainment for me today.  It doesn't help that two days ago I asked Jill if she felt like doing a little Pod Club "Extra Credit" with me by listening to another podcast from On Being. 

Okay, you know what? I just stopped the Risk episode with 20 minutes left to go. My head is not in the frame of mind to appreciate any more stories that involve bathrooms. Sorry Risk!

Wednesday morning I realized Brene Brown was a guest on one of my favorite podcasts, On Being.  I've watched her TED talks on vulnerability and shame before so I was excited to hear a longer conversation with her.  As the conversation unfolded, I found myself mentally highlighting every word out of her mouth to remember later.  Please take an hour to change your life by listening to this episode. I can't even begin to explain how insightful and brilliant Brene is. 

I've wasted so much of my life feeling as though I don't deserve to be happy. Ms. Brown defines this feeling that we aren't worthy of love and belonging as shame. In the last few months I've already started to see that my behavior, my productivity, my failures and accomplishments do not define who I am. While listening, I could feel some of the loose feelings and ideas in the back of my mind start to click into place with the glue of her words.   I don't want to give it all away, and I don't think I can properly explain what I feel so I'll give you a few of the things that really jumped out as applicable to my life and let you discover as you listen in your own time.

~ Shame is the feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.

~ Love and belonging should be non-negotiable regardless of failures.

~ We tend to focus on the behavior rather than who we are.

~ Productivity does not equal self worth.

~ The shame trigger for creativity is comparison.

~ Wholehearted people show up in their lives every day without any guarantees.

~ Uncertainty, risk and fear of exposure lead to vulnerability.
~ Vulnerability leads to the courage to show up and be seen in our lives.

~ Our willingness to be brokenhearted is equal to our ability to be wholehearted beings.

~ Courage is born completely from vulnerability.

~ Hope is a function of struggle.

Pod Club is a weekly meeting of ears and the brains between those ears. Join Jill and myself every monday as we pick an episode for the week and meet back at the end of the week to post our thoughts. The lovely Leah at Soft Spiral always has beautiful things to say too. Join us by listening and thinking and possibly commenting on our blogs or posting on your own! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Decking The Halls For Free

Snip Snip Snip (a holiday trader joes bag)

Glue Glue Glue (the strips into a chain)
Deck Deck Deck (the halls)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Don't Sell The Bike - Adjust The Seat

I almost sold my bike. My knees were bothering me and I often felt like the wicked witch of the west on it. Something about the way my body was a little hunched and how hard it was for me to peddle up hill always cued that theme music in my head. You're hearing it now aren't you... 

When Rob was gone the other week, I took his bike out every day to ride and felt so much better on the bigger frame.  We started tossing around the idea of selling my relatively new bike to find one that would be more comfortable for me now that I'm riding multiple times a week. Rob even went as far as asking bike shops what we could get for it and looking for more ideal bikes online.  

For the last few weeks I hadn't been out on my bike. My knees had let me know, not to kindly, that they needed a break. Today we wanted to get out after five days straight of rain so we got the bikes down and Rob had a brilliant idea. What if we raised my seat? Ya. Like magic I rode up those hills without pain and not once did I hear the wicked witch of the west theme music. Ten miles of bliss.

So it made me think. How many times do we give up on things we're going through? How often do we give up on people or projects or bikes because we keep approaching the situations the same way time after time? What if all we have to do is adjust the seat?

One small adjustment could change everything. 

It's worth a try before you sell the bike (or end the relationship,  quit the job, toss out that creative project,  hang up the phone,  give up on get the idea).

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pod Club : Risk

Don't look now, but it's Monday again. Yes it sort of snuck up on me too. This week's Pod Club choice is from the podcast Risk. We're going with an older episode titled "Dreams".   Join us won't you?  Take a chance on something new and different with Just Jill and me.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Some Assembly Required

pine cones I had in a cupboard

yarn scraps 

little hoops from my jewelry making supplies

my first xmas decorations

merry happy day

Saturday, December 1, 2012

After Effects

I spent a ridiculous amount of time fiddling with this picture in a new favorite camera app on my phone. I saturated, focused, centered, dramatified, cropped, bordered and shaded until my eyes were happier with what they saw. The picture is of one of the only pretty spots I saw in Texas (sorry Texas I just didn't make it out of a few mile radius). The result is so much more exciting isn't it? 

Or is it...I wonder if we might be losing the ability to see the perfect beauty of life as it is. Simply the portrait the universe centers for us every day. Instead, we look at a sunset and imagine how it would look after a spin through Instagram. Maybe we're slowly setting our visual standards too high, not only for nature, but for people and for ourselves. 

Don't forget to see the exquisite perfectness that is you without any fancy adjustments. No makeup, no accessories or special lighting...just you. 

Just your life as it is.

Let's try not to change things so much all the time. Now that I look again, I think I find the original picture more appealing. It tells the truth.