Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Crossing the Threshold to a New Life

 Today I would like to share a life-changing concept with you. This is not a new concept and you just might very well sigh a big yawn when I share with you the big idea. But, I can tell you that if you make this concept a daily PRACTICE, your life will change in ways that you never imagined:


When I began this practice two years ago, I was in a deep depression with hardly a speck of light penetrating the darkness of my soul and struggling for something for which to be thankful. My glass was not half-full (well, except for wine), it was empty! But, very soon after implementing this daily habit of gratitude my spirit lightened and my heart began to occasionally beat with joy.

"Being grateful all the time isn't easy, but, it's when you feel least thankful that you are most in need of what gratitude can give you : PERSPECTIVE!!! Gratitude can transform any situation. It alters your vibration, moving you from negative energy to positive. It's the quickest, easiest, most powerful way to effect change in your life.....And the more grateful you become, the more you have to be grateful for."                                                              
"What I Know for Sure" by Oprah                                                       

"First we learn to be grateful no matter what our circumstances. In offering gratitude for our real lives, we discover how to change them for the better.

"Simple Abundance" by Sarah Ban Breathnach
"The life that counts blessings discovers that it's yielding more than it seems"

"One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."                                      

Melody Beattie author of "Codependent No More"

"The Power of Vulnerability" by Brené Brown

In BrenĂ© Brown's list of The 10 Guideposts of Wholehearted Living she lists gratitude as an essential ingredient to living a Wholehearted Life.  Dr. Brown goes so far as to say "Not only just verbally speaking "I'm grateful" but, by making a concrete practice of this habit you will become closer to living a wholehearted life". You can do this by writing them down or establishing a 5 minute break of giving thanks or sharing gratitudes around the dinner table with your family.  This is a daily ritual that is as essential as breathing in my opinion.

Two years ago, I began the practice of recording my gratitudes.  First thing in the morning before I look at e-mails, turn on the news, take a phone call, or eat breakfast, I reflect on and write 5 "things" for which I am grateful.  I make myself a cup of coffee and I sit down in my favorite chair with a beautiful book, my favorite pen and I reflect on 5 blessings/miracles, big or little, that occurred the day before that I know in my heart were planted just for me to see, hear, taste, or enjoy. Perhaps it was a text of encouragement, a handwritten note of Thanksgiving, a beautiful white rose blooming outside my window, the hug of a grandchild, or a phone call from a long lost friend....I can testify that making gratitude a daily practice will rock your world!

Now, I am sure that you are wondering what in the world this has to do with eating healthily, but my experience tells me that if we are not firmly grounded spiritually or emotionally, we can't conquer our poor eating habits.  We rely on comfort foods to numb us or console us. Life happens and inevitably some hurtful event will happen in a month, a week, or a day that will upset us and we will want to turn to food for consolation. Instead of reaching for that cookie or piece of cake or glass of wine,  reflect on the daily miracles that have showered you with inspiration and hope. ( This is why I like to record my gratitudes in a beautiful journal. Now I have them handy to refresh my memory when my ego is telling me " Open the refrigerator door, have a little snack and pour yourself a little glass of deserve a little comfort"!).

I encourage you to begin this practice and after a couple of weeks I would love to hear how implementing this habit has impacted your life and what specific blessings you noticed that you might not have noticed before.

Next Post: Considering a Plant Based Diet

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Long Journey

I dedicate this blog to those who are seeking, curious, or lost and to those who want to make a change for the better in their lives and to have a meaningful, lasting impact beyond their earthly existence.

 I don't know who you are.  I don't know where you've been.  I don't know where you are physically, emotionally, or spiritually at this very minute. I have been on a quest to right the poor choices I've made which have impacted my body, my emotional health, and spilled over out of my own life and lapped at the feet of those who I love. I've been on a winding, bumpy, jarring, sometimes joyful, sometimes frightening path. Yes, I've taken the longest journey of my life...the journey to find myself over the past 2 years.  And at long last, at the age of 60, I have found my way "home".  I tell myself, "You sure are a late bloomer"!!!!  But, I smile, knowing with joyful and thankful heart that it is better to bloom late than never to bloom at all.

 If you have a need and a desire to change something in yourself or to make a difference in your destiny or the destiny of someone you love,  I would like to share the insights that I have gleaned and the practices that I have implemented along the way in the hope that it will point you in the direction of finding your own way home.... to a place of peace, comfort, joy and contentment.

Unbelievably, the thing that brought me to this place of fulfillment, contentment, and self-awareness was a DIET challenge that a friend of mine spoke about in her blog almost 2 years ago. It made sense to me that I might determine on my own (without medical intervention and tests) what foods my body thrived on and what foods my body rejected. I had no overt physical symptoms like most people get: bloating, rashes, abdominal pain or worse but I had complexion issues and a couple of pounds that wanted to cling to my waist like a bad boyfriend.

The name of the DIET challenge was "The Whole 30". The premise of the challenge is that you abstain from dairy, sugar, alcohol, grains, and  legumes for a full 30 cheating!!!!!! However, the upside is that you get to enjoy the meat of your choice,  plentiful veggies, and fruit without counting calories or worrying about how high the food is piled on your plate. At the end of the 30 days you begin to reintroduce one food group at a time over several weeks and see how your body reacts.

Being a nurse, I wanted a little bit more quantitative data.  I had blood work stats from my yearly physical just several months before and after I successfully completed the Whole 30 I had my blood work promptly drawn again.  Much to my disappointment, my cholesterol was at an all time high for me at 199. Borderline, but still an upward trend!

 Now, of course, I loved the concept of the diet because I love red meat (steak, ribs, burgers, pork.....I am a bacon whore.) I did lose some weight, my complexion was glowing, and I looked strong...however, the numbers from my blood profile did not make me feel secure with this eating plan.   Maybe I looked like a brick house on the outside, but what was going on underneath this Marilyn Monroe physique???? ( I'm prone to a bit of exaggeration when it comes to my appearance...both good and bad! This time I'm being way generous with my assessment in the looking glass).

About that same time, my husband was turned onto another book by a fellow physician called "The Wheat Belly" and together we both became immersed in this study to discover what really is the best way to eat and live a long and healthy life.  Incidentally, it was not the Whole 30 or Wheat Belly that turned the screw to life long fulfillment. What we discovered together and separately has changed our lives. Where we started and where we landed were not expected and certainly not part of our vision to achieving a whole hearted life.

Our children and our friends are scratching their heads wondering "Have they been brainwashed? Have they lost their minds? " By, today's standards of living it would be a reasonable assumption to make.  I can assure you that we are closer to the REAL TRUTH than white is to rice and we are living smarter, more healthy, and compassionate lives than we ever had in the past. We are mindful every day of what we used to take for granted and how it got on our plate!

 I won't tell you that it is easy to make "radical" changes!  I've had people I know tell me I don't know what I'm talking about or they are so committed to The American Plate that they don't want to hear anything that might clash with their lifestyle or threaten their physical and emotional comfort or is different than what mainstream news programming is preaching. It's a hard choice that smacks you upside the head, but in my experience making these changes will reward you with miracle after miracle. The impact that we can have as a people just by opening our eyes and our hearts to the realities of the choices we make and their devastating consequences could change the course of our children's future and the inevitable crash and burn of this planet if we keep shoving our head in the sand. And to think, all you have to do is change what you eat! (Well, maybe not quite all, but a very critical step indeed). I implemented some useful habits beyond conscious food choices that have enabled me to achieve a more well rounded life; to be content within myself and not rely on outside temptations (food, alcohol, numbing, shopping frenzies,etc). These practices have filled the hollow places in my soul and led me home.

Through my blog I would love to share the layers of sources which have helped me to build a mindful and balanced life :  books, quotes, documentaries, recipes, and life style routines that have rewarded me with a happy, healthy, and emotionally/spiritually grounded "home".

Let's take a journey together...the journey to find yourself!

Next:  The First Steps