How Do You Eat an Elephant or (in this case) a Dinosaur?

**First Marty wanted to say no dinosaurs were hurt in the making of this blog or above picture.

A friend recently reached out to me because of a meme on Facebook that said, “Your diet is not only what you eat. It is what you watch, what you listen to, what you read, the people you hang out with and the things you subject your mind and soul to. Always be mindful of the things you put into your body emotionally, spiritually, and physically.” It was from @aNewKindofHuman. The reason she contacted me was because this seemed so overwhelming to try and change all of these things at once. Of course being a wise woman, in her own right, she already knew the answer. “How do you eat an Elephant?” “One bite at a time”.

There are so many things in life that we can be doing to improve our life, bodies, minds, situation, performance, and ourselves. It can feel very overwhelming if we try and focus on them all at once. I am currently on a sabbatical from alcohol, working on 21 days to be complaint free, wanting to walk 10,000 steps a day, maintain a low sugar intake, intermittent fasting, and be a faithful pescatarian. On top of all that, I would like a daily yoga and mediation practice, to read more books, start running again, journal, return to my Toastmasters groups, blog more, volunteer more, offer online classes, and learn some new healing modalities. There are probably several other things I would like to do as well to improve myself and be the best ‘me’ I can be.  It is easy to see how quickly all this could be very overwhelming.

This is precisely the reason, when another friend with my best interest at heart, encouraged me to give up diet soda I told her not right now. I know, that the ways I am currently working on myself are enough for me right now. I cannot improve everything at once. I have to eat the elephant, one bite at a time. I can start to try to add a bit more water to my day, in hopes that it will replace some of the diet soda naturally, but to give up diet soda right now would increase the chances of failure. Not only failure in that but maybe some of my other initiatives as well. I do believe that soda is not good for me and in time I will stop, but today my mouth is full and I am not ready for the next bite.

Yes, what we put into our bodies, minds, and spirits does matter. Trying to be the best ‘us’ we can be is a very noble journey. It is important to continue to move forward, step by step, along our path. But, we are human. This is a human experience and we cannot strive for perfection all at once. It takes a slow, methodical approach. Just like walking across the street. You cannot jump over the street. You must cross it step by step. I am proud of you for the improvements you are making to your life. You should be proud of yourself too! Go ahead, it is okay, celebrate your successes! There will be time for more successes in the future.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you have many successes (big and small) to celebrate, as if by magic.

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Finding a Connection

Whether you use the word God, Universe, Creator, Spirit, or some other term we are all talking about the same thing, that force of life that is in all of us, that guiding force that lets us know there is something greater than ourselves that we are part of that. It is not something separate but something that connects us. For me, it is important to feel this connection. That does not happen by going through my mundane life, plodding along and checking the boxes. It takes an effort on my part to attend events, connect with others on the same spiritual path, and go to locations where I can feel that connection. This weekend I had just this sort of event on my calendar, because a friend had reached out and asked me to attend with her. I am so glad she did. It was an amazingly moving event that inspired us and left us fulfilled.

On Saturday night we went to a Kirtan. What is Kirtan? According to Courtney Amundson and Chi Johnson (the people lead the Kirtan we attended) “Kirtan, also called Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion), is an ancient practice that stems from India. The call-and-response nature of Kirtan involves both performers and audience, setting a unique and sacred space that quiets the mind, reduces stress, and awakens your spirit within. Kirtan is open to all people, regardless of spiritual or religious beliefs!”  It was held in a beautiful space. A yoga studio in the lower level of the Compass Center in Stillwater, MN. The people in attendance ranged from an infant to seniors. Some people sat on the floor and others in chairs. The music was beautiful. The voices, raised together in song, created a beautifully energetic connection between all in attendance.

The music moved my body. As I sat on my yoga mat, I could not help but feel my body swaying in response the rhythms that filled the room. My voice raised signing/chanting the response to the call from the facilitators. I do not feel I have a gift for singing nor do it in public, but on this night, my voice would not be silent. I was a part of the communal energy. The vibration that resonated through the studio. The 3 month old infant was mesmerized by the music and her tiny foot also moved in response. The beauty of this experience even moved some to tears. When I had entered the room, my neck was tight, full of knots, and uncomfortable. It had been a harried day of trying to get projects completed, readying for the arrival of winter, and keeping promises to friends. I walked into this beautiful room, stressed from rushing about and with a headache. As the music and the voices were raised, as I was picked up within the loving, supportive vibrations and everything changed. The stress dropped away. The knots in my neck seemed to melt and released. The headache disappeared. I felt renewed. I felt energized. I felt connected.

I am grateful that my friend reached out to share this experience with us. I am blessed to have a husband who will try new things and is open to attending events like this with me. My life is magical. This spiritual adventure was one of the many blessings that flow into it everyday.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you! May your life be filled with events that fill your cup in whatever way you need, as if by magic.

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Food As Medicine: How I Cook With the Intention of Good Health

I try to be intentional in what I eat and what I put into my body. I have chosen to be a pescatarian because I believe it is better for my health. Pescatarian just means I am a vegetarian who eats fish, dairy, and eggs.  I try and avoid processed sugar in my diet, whenever I can, because it causes me joint pain. I choose meals that are good for me and my family and the ingredients I use are chosen for their healthy properties, taste, and color. 

  • Eggs. They are good source of protein, contain vitamin B12 and selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant which may protect against heart disease and boost immunity. 
  • Tofu. Because I do not eat meat, tofu is a great source of protein. Additionally soy has cardiovascular benefits and is a natural estrogen replacement. 
  • Colorful veggies. The more different colored vegetables you put in your dishes the more different antioxidants you add to your meals. I chose veggies I use by the colors of other veggies in the dish. For example; If there is already a lot of green in the dish I usually pick a different colored bell pepper instead of green. They also make the dish look pretty,  and as my grandmother would say, how it looks is as important as how it tastes.
  • Mushrooms. They are cancer fighting powerhouses which have the added benefit of a healthy dose of Vitamin D, the ‘happiness’ vitamin.
  • Honey. Honey is antibacterial and adds sweetness, naturally. 
  • Spicy peppers. These stoke your metabolism. You can adjust how much you add according to taste. My husband does not like his food too spicy, so I add a little, just to increase the savoriness of the dish. 
  • Basil. This herb has healing properties. It also reduces stress and is an immune booster. 
  • Garlic. Helps prevent and fight illness. This powerful bulb has multiple healthy properties that also include reducing the chance of tooth decay and dementia (and keeps away the vampires, per my husband).
  • Love. Setting an intention of love and happiness while cooking infuses these energies into the dish. Good intentions always taste so good. 

These are example of the things I like to put into the food I cook for my family, friends, and myself.  Below is a delicious recipe using these items.  Always consider what you are putting into your cooking and body. Our food really does affect us. 

Thai Basil Stir Fry

with fried egg on top

2 tablespoons olive oil

egg for each serving

For Stir Fry

1 pack ‘firm’ tofu – drained and pressed

5 Thai chili peppers

Olive oil for frying and sautéing

1-2 tablespoon minced garlic

1 package of white mushrooms

1/2 red bell pepper cut in stripes

2 cups fresh green beans, snapped in half with ends removed. 

Sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

2 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons water 

Add in at the end

1.5 Cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves.

Base

Cooked jasmine rice to serve as a base for the stir fry.

Putting it all together

Heat the oil. (you just need enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan). Cut up the Thai chillies and sauté in the oil. Once they are fully sautéed, remove and dispose. These give flavor to the oil and add a hint of heat without taking over the dish. More chillies can be used to increase the heat.

After the tofu has been drained, wrap it in paper towels and place on a plate with another plate and something, somewhat heavy, on top. This will press the extra liquid out of the tofu. Cut the tofu into chunks. Place in the hot oil. Cook over medium heat. No need to rush it. Let it take its time.  Occasionally ‘gently flip’ the tofu. You don’t want to break it up but have it stay in chunks. As this is cooking, add the garlic and continue to sauté. Next cut the mushrooms into quarters and add to the pan once the tofu has a light golden brown crust on it. Allow this to cook slowly while you mix the ingredients for the sauce in a separate bowl. Add the red bell peppers to the pan and stir ‘gently’ again. Pour the sauce over everything.  Add the green beans and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beans are bright green and warm all the way through. Keep your thoughts positive through the process. Play some fun music if that helps. Keep loving thoughts in your mind for those you are cooking for. 

In a separate pan fry the eggs, soft cooked are delicious, but how hard you cook the yokes is up to your preference. 

Serve stir fry over rice with the egg on top. 

Enjoy! 

Thank you fro reading my blog today. May you find it easy to put healthy food into your body, as if by magic.

** Photo credit goes to my husband who enjoyed the food so much he snapped a picture of it.

 

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Symbolism is All Around Us!

As we dance through life we see things that appeal to us or notice things we may have missed before, such as animals making appearances. All of these things may have messages for us. They may be a way that God or Spirit is trying to speak to us.

How many times have you been walking down the street and all of a sudden you are seeing something repeatedly. Maybe it has been there when you have walked the same path in the past, but for whatever reason, today they are standing out to you. They may have a message or symbolism that is important for you in this time. For example, in the spring of this year, I was noticing tulips everywhere. They were growing in planters, in vases and painted in pictures. Ironically, I was traveling at the time and missed the blooming of my own tulips. It was a time when I was feeling a bit disconnected from spirit. When I looked up the meaning of tulips it spoke to connection with spirituality. It seemed I was noticing the tulips because my spirit was calling out for that connection.

Now, just because that’s what tulips meant to me at that time, does not mean that is what it means for everyone. Allowing others to find their own meanings in the symbols around us and allow their message to you to be unique. I know a woman who knows her deceased loved one is near whenever she sees an Eagle. Eagles hold a different meaning for me. For many others, Eagles can have patriotic symbolism. Another example, I have of this, is about a time when I was seeing deer. They were outside my hotel drinking from the pond. Standing next to the pharmacy in a good sized city. Grazing in the woods next to the road. I was seeing deer all over and in very unusual places. They were, for sure, trying to get my attention. There are many websites and books where you can look up the symbolism of animals and other things. I looked deer up in various books and websites and nothing they said seemed or felt right to me. I finally took sometime to meditate and allow the answer to come to me. Suddenly, one day, it came to me. All the deer were standing or slowly walking. None of them were running. Even though they were in places that may have been dangerous, they did not seem to be afraid. I was in a new situation where change was causing me some fear. The deer were a sign for me that I was safe and had no reason to be afraid. I trusted the message and it turned out to be very true.

Watch and notice things and events  around you. There may be messages you are receiving that you are not even aware of. Be open to what they may have to tell you. It can be important and might even bring you peace.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you live a life full of messages easily received, as if by magic.

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9 tips and tricks to stop being so busy!

I have recently been repeating the mantra “I am so busy” and “I have no time.”  I finally realized what I was doing when other members of my Toastmasters group started saying to me, “Wow, you have had a busy week” or “I am busy too”. We are all busy right?! Why do I think I am so special, that my particular type of busy is worse than anyone else’s? And furthermore, why do I want to manifest being too busy? It was quite the eye opener for me to realize how I sounded. So, how do we change our use of time into something more healthy?

1. Change your thoughts and change your world ~ Norman Vincent Peale. Instead of reminding yourself how busy you are, try this mantra on for size; “I have plenty of time and endless energy”.

2. Make time for yourself. My husband and I were talking this weekend about how easy it is to be busy. You can always find some project, chore, or task that needs to be worked on. Luckily, you get to choose how you spend your time, so make some time for you on your ‘to do’ list. The chores will still be there after you spend some lazy time in the hammock.

3. Less multitasking. An article shared by one of my Toastmasters friends suggests that multitasking is part of the problem. It says rest time should be that also. Don’t use your “me” time to get a couple more things done.

4. Watch out for time stealers. I spend lots and lots of time on airplanes. In the past I have used the time scrolling through FB or playing games on my phone. These activities are time stealers. The time spent doing things like this can be shifted to other activities. Reading a book, completing some work, researching something, or taking a nap (reenergize!) can replace them and help you have more time when it really counts!

5. Appreciate the moments you do get. This weekend my husband and I were working on projects and getting things accomplished. Most of Saturday was used in getting things done. Saturday night we drove out of town (not far, just far enough to get out of the city lights). We laid in the grass and watched the meteor shower together. I so appreciated this quiet time, just lying there, looking at the sky. There are so many little moments like this when we get a break and have room to breath. We only need to recognize that we have them.

6. Look at your busyness in a different way. What is it you are spending your time doing? I spend time getting together with friends, making improvements to our homes, traveling, and blogging, in addition to working (a job I love) of course. In addition there are the Toastmasters groups, books we are writing, and spending time with family. What of these would I be willing to cut out of my life to be less busy? None! These are the things that make my life glorious and blessed!

7. Stay in the now. I often remind people when they feel overwhelmed, “How do you eat an elephant?” (not that I would want to as a vegetarian) “One bite at a time!” It is easy to get caught up thinking about all we have to do. By just staying present, the stress and pressure of all the other “to do’s” will not seem so looming. Lao Tzu said; “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

8. Make a list! I am a list making person. I love watching my progress as I cross things off. Using an orange marker to cross off items is my go to color, because orange makes you feel more productive. Another great thing about a list is you don’t have to think about what you need to do. Once it is written down you can forget about it until you finish that task. Otherwise it will be there waiting for you until you do.

9. Meditate! A Zen proverb says, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you are too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” It’s a great way to become more present, reduce stress, find some space, and connect with source.

I hope these tips and tricks will help your life feel more manageable. They may not change what you need to do or how much is on your plate but hopefully you can slow down and take life one bite at a time. Don’t just chew through it quickly, trying to rush to the next bite to get done. Take your time and savor it. Life is magical!

Thank you for reading my blog today! May you have plenty of time and endless energy, as if by magic.

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Daily Meditation Adventure: Week 12, 13, and 14

If you have not already joined our Daily Meditation Adventure, I hope you will still do so. Here’s how the last few weeks went for me.

Experiences during the week: Over the last three weeks my experiences have been varied. From drumming meditations to Deepak’s mantra meditations.

What I have learned: I have learned that the drumming meditations seem to resonate a lot with me but drumming is not always convenient. As when in a hotel room with neighbors.

My weight:   Intermittent fasting has proven to be a successful weight loss tool for me! I have lost 10 lbs. I give the meditation some credit as well, as it has helped with my stress management and stopped me from eating to comfort myself.

How I feel: I feel as if I am still searching for balance in my life. I feel as if I am still looking for a way to make it all fit into my schedule. I am searching for a way to organize my day so that there is time to do and be it all. I know there is a way to find this alchemy of balance, time, space, and connection. So I pull myself up and I journey on, still trying to be true to myself and respect what I need.

How it is affecting my life: There are times this meditation journey is a stressor and I feel blessed having not succeeded as I would have liked to by this phase in the journey. But then there are times the meditation adventure enhances my life. I have magical experiences and I find a peace and connection I would not, without it.

I would love to hear your experiences with this. Have you had magical experiences? Have you maintained daily meditation? Have you enjoyed this adventure? Is meditation helping enhance your life?

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish you a lifetime of peace, as if by magic.

Previous meditation blogs by the Adventure Sisters: Join Us on This AdventureMeditate the weight away?9 ways to improve meditation, Meditation contemplations, There’s an App for That: A review of meditation Apps7 Common Meditation Myths11 Types of Meditation 

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A Story of Remembering

I want to tell you a story. This might be a story of old or it might be the story of now. It is likely a story that has occurred countless times throughout history. It is a story of trust and a story of renewal, but most of all, it a story of remembering.

There was a young woman. She was a mother or she wasn’t. She had responsibilities as we all do. One day, as she was walking through the forest of life, she saw a path. This path was not into the light but rather was a path into the darkness. This path went deep into the forest and it looked very dangerous. It was jagged and had many curves. It would have been impossible to learn were the path would take her by simply looking. The darkness of this path called to her. It called to her and it pulled at her, although she knew pain and betrayal waited for her along this path, she felt oddly intrigued by it.

Now I have to tell you, this young woman had always been responsible. She had always done what had been asked of her, what was expected of her, and even more. Everyone in her tribe felt she was the perfect young woman. Every mother wanted to call her daughter. The older men all wanted to call her daughter and the younger men chased her to be their bride. She cared for the young and learned from the elderly. She was the definition of smart and responsible.

Despite her history, as such a stand up member of the community, the young woman felt she must walk this path. She had to voyage into the darkness, even though it meant walking away from her responsibilities. She had to risk being hurt and had to hurt those who had placed so much trust and pride in her. She stepped onto the path, dropping the baskets that she had brought into the forest, leaving them where they lay.

The path was arduous. She stumbled and fell many times. She met scary creatures who pretended to be her friends or help her, but in the end, they we leading her farther into the darkness. They hurt her, physically, emotionally, and separated her from the light. Sometimes she tried to find her way back but they kept pulling her deeper into the darkness. They kept pulling her further from who she had been. They caused her to feel like a completely different person. It did not take long before she forgot who she was. She forgot she was from the light and she believed she was a creature of the darkness.

This went on for many years. The village mourned her. They felt that she was lost to them forever. They feared she would never find her way back to the light. But one day, she stumbled into the village. She was wild and untamed. She was a mere shadow of the bright young woman who she had once been. The darkness hung all around her and her “friends” from there, watched from the shadows. They called to her and pulled at her.

There was something about the village that felt like home to her, although she could not really recall. The community did not trust her, they avoided her. They would not let her care for the young or spend time with the elderly. They did not want to claim her as they once did. When they tried to give her responsibilities she would wander off or never fulfill them. Even though she was back, they felt she was still lost. They still did not recognize her as the brave and ambitious woman she had once been.

One day the village wise woman (the witch) was working quietly on something. She had been watching all of this. She saw how the darkness pulled at the woman, but she also saw how the woman tried to resist the darkness. She knew something deep within the young woman wanted to live fully in the light again, but there was so much baggage from the darkness, she couldn’t seem to step away from it. It had become a part of her identity.

The witch touched her finger to the young woman’s brow. The place in front of where the third eye resides. “Remember” said the wise old woman, “remember who you are”. The young woman blinked at her elder. The darkness seemed to fall away. Her “friends” let go of their holds on her and slunk back onto the treacherous path. Light beamed all around the young woman and she suddenly did remember who she was.

From that day on she worked to gain the trust of her community. She became who she had been only better. She was wiser now. Having known the darkness and living among the darkness helped her better see how she belonged in the light. It helped her embrace and enjoy her responsibilities. She become one others looked to for wisdom, for she had lived what they could never imagine and returned to the light.

Time would pass and worlds would change. The young woman would become the witch in the future. The wise woman would become the young woman again. This story would continue to unfold throughout history over and over again. Is this your story? It is my story. It is many peoples’ story. Forgive yourself for the time in the darkness. It was a part of your journey. It is done or nearly done now. You are wiser for it. Remember who you are! Remember that you are of the light!

Thank you for ready no my blog today! May you remember your true nature, as if by magic!

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