To Know The Truth

Don’t deny your world. Your world does not need saving, it needs more of your loving care.  It’s begging you to pay more attention to the details.

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Pay attention.

Accept this moment for what it is.

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Suffering is just the refusal to accept what is.

Healing is really just letting yourself feel your most suppressed feelings and recognizing that these feelings are fleeting.

rage

Each day we must go to war and fight the good fight. Vivere est Militare. To live is to fight. Fighting for our dreams with fortitude. Fighting against impulses with discipline. Fighting to be the person I want to be with courage.

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Life is a battlefield.

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Home Made Love with the Best New Cooking Tools Ever

holding-handsThich Nhat Hanh writes, “When you say something like I love you. . .with your whole being, not just your mouth or your intellect, it can transform the world.” Because we are interconnected, when we awaken love in ourselves and express it, our love changes the world around us.  The hearts of those we touch are opened, and they in turn touch the hearts of others.

Love is the basic nature, the goodness of all beings, waiting to manifest. Whether we offer love in silent prayer or aloud, we are helping love to flower in all beings everywhere. This expression of our deepest nature is the living power of loving kindness – as the Buddha said, “it glows, it shines, it blazes forth.”   A quote that brought me to tears today from Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Cooking with Love

Fatto a mano in Italian means “hand made” and fatto in casahome made“. To prepare home made meals by hand with love is an active meditation and the creation of loving kindness. Just like a hug, a tender kiss, a warm embrace, preparing a meal for friends and family with the intention of savoring some time together around the table, is a beautiful way to touch each other’s hearts.

Meals can be sacred. Taking a moment of silence before eating, saying a prayer of gratitude together can make a meal sacred. A lovely prayer-poem from 13th Century Persia and direct quote from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Some nights stay up ’til dawn as the moon sometimes does for the sun.

Be a full bucket, pulled up the dark way of a well then lifted out into light.

Something opens our wings, something makes boredom and hurt disappear.

Someone fills the cup in front of us, we taste only sacredness.

Some of the coolest new kitchen tools to help make meal preparation a little bit easier.

The Pot Clip – less mess on the counter.

Pot ClipOn Amazon Trudeau Pot Clip,Assorted Colors

The Citrus Sprayer – for a fresher than fresh spritz of lime, lemon and/or orange.

Citrus sprayer Existed-lemonOn Amazon Lekue Citrus Sprayer Set

The Rinse Bowl and Strainer – such a smart idea.

Rinse Bowl

On Amazon Umbra Rinse Bowl and Strainer, White

The Onion holder – because I cringe when I see my daughters slice onions. Safety first.

Onion holderOn Amazon  Norpro Onion Holder/Odor remover

pancake-Know-Existed-pancakeA pancake pen – creativity in the kitchen. The ultimate fun do it with a kid in the kitchen tool.

On Amazon – Tovolo Pancake Pen

Inviting Your Troubles to Tea

buddhaThe night before the Buddha attained final enlightenment he had a visit from the demon king Mara. Mara represented all the anger, doubt, fear, striving, craving and greed of the world. He came to tempt the Buddha.
Instead of ignoring Mara or driving him away, the Buddha calmly acknowledged his presence, staying “I see you, Mara
He then invited Mara to tea as an honored guest.
It is suggested that we do the same when we are pained with trouble (whether real or imaginary). When we are feeling jealous, fearful, angry, frustrated, we examine these feelings with a compassionate heart, filled with self-love. We invite troubles to tea.
Instead of running from what troubles us, avoiding what is painful to face while only trying to seek happiness, we need to deal with all of life’s struggles head on, or they will continue to haunt us.
tea settingTea 101
Wake up with Matcha or Peppermint; Sleep with Kava or Chamomile; Ward off a cold with Echinacea or White Tea; Digest with Ginger or Lemon; Detox with Dandelion or Nettle; Soothe an upset stomach with Fennel or Ginger; Energize with Mint or Green; De-stress with Lavender or Ginseng.
tea
 Tea Supplies
 Soma-Water-Pitcher-01Filter your water

Soma Sustainable Pitcher & Plant-Based Water Filter

 bonavitaInvest in an electric tea kettle

Bonavita Dual Voltage 0.5L Travel Electric Kettle

My favorite morning tea

detox
Traditional Medicinals EveryDay Detox, 16-Count Boxes (Pack of 6)

kenko
KENKO Tea – Matcha Green Tea Powder – USDA Organic – Japanese Culinary Grade Matcha Powder for Lattes Smoothies Baking -100g Bag [50 Servings]

 

compassion A lesson a day from . . .

Teachings of the Buddha (Shambhala Pocket Classics)

Living in a World Where Everyone is Real

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One of the most remarkable things I’ve noticed about the Dalai Lama is how he treats everyone equally. While one newspaper photo shows him lovingly embracing Jesse Helms, another shows him with his arms around the poor Tibetan refugee. When the Dalai Lama says, “My religion is kindness,” he is expressing his commitment to live with the unconditionally open and loving heart of compassion. Kindness is a facet of the jewel that arises when we remember that we are connected with every living being we meet.

Each person is precious, each person is fragile and each person matters.

Direct quote from Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Image of a girl at a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.

A Sky Like Mind, Active Abs and The Art of Slow and Mindful Eating

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Have you thought about what pace feels right for you? At times I do have a need for speed and love the energy and creativity that feels supercharged in big cities like Manhattan. Right now, I feel the need to breath deeply, chill out and slow down to refocus. Not unplug, just down shift to first or maybe second gear.

Something clicked the minute I stepped off the plane at Providenciales. An assuring voice inside my head delivered a comforting message “a more intentional pace.” This slower island pace. Not the harried, brisk and hurried hustle of New York, but the more deliberate and intentional easiness, much like the gentle movement of the waves and soothing breezes of this island.  I am not describing a snail-like, creeping, lazy/boozy pace, but that of speaking, thinking, walking and working which is more conscious, considered and purposed. More thoughtful living. This is the pace for now.

And so it goes with meals, especially meals together. My memories of my youth bring me back to four hour dinners around the long outdoor communal table, under the grapevines, with my loud and excited extended Italian family. The never-ending conversations, the slow and relaxed experience of enjoying a meal together.

The Art of Slow and Mindful Eating begins with an intention to create an experience. Setting the mood, dimming the lights, selecting soft and slower music and smaller plates,  create an atmosphere for mindful eating.  Imagine setting a stage to enjoy and savor your meal. This mindful eating ritual can be extended to any meal – from breakfast to dinner. For more tips on mindful eating, check out Dara Rose, PhD, neuroscientist, foodist, author and the creator of Summer Tomato.

I start my meals by saying grace. Sometimes privately, sometimes with my family. Saying grace can transform a mere meal into an act of celebration, focus, and gratitude.

Listening to meditation talks from Tara Brach, I actually envisioned what she describes as “A Sky Like Mind“, a more expansive mind that allows me to open to the very healing, healthy and beautiful moment that is right now, this healing presence.  Tara’s podcasts and book, Radical Acceptance has really helped release the fear, worry and pain that stems from the mental swirl of anxious activity, the grasping and wanting that only proves to enslave my mind.

It is by meeting each moment throughout the day with radical acceptance for what ever is going on and holding those feelings that arise with a compassionate and open heart, a forgiving heart, this is feels like true freedom.

Reading
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Active Abs

With everything moving at a slower pace this week, I had the opportunity to try Pilates class for the first time. One of the slowest classes I have attended in a long time, a slight pick up from yoga, nothing about the Pilates Method is haphazard. The reason you need to concentrate so thoroughly is so you can be in control of every aspect of every moment.  The one reminder that I have walked away with today is Active Abs and focusing on my posture, especially when sitting at my desk for hours at end.  Two exercises to help you feel your abdominal muscles correctly.

A Beginner’s Mind, The Power of the Mindful Pause and Cultivating Self-Compassion

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As with everything I do, I try to keep a beginners mind.  Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.

Although I’ve been challenging myself daily to improve my mental and physical health and wellness, each morning requires a daily reset – a reboot to remind myself of my hopes, dreams and aspirations.   If I don’t awake each day with this reminder to tread this path leading to a more deliberate and intentional life, than I backslide. It’s similar to training at the gym, I find that my mind must also be trained, daily.

The Power of the Purposeful Pause

Communication experts will tell you to be aware of the power of silence between conversations. When the other person finishes speaking, take a breath, relax and smile before saying anything. They know that “the pause” is a key part of improving communication and relationships.

I’ve been reading Tara Brach’s Radical Acceptance and I am going to share  her mindful technique of practicing the purposeful pause.  Now, while pausing when having a conversation with others is always an intelligent idea, pausing to listen to the conversations happening inside your own head is another. To bow to this experience happening within and around you, whatever it is, right now.

For example, if I’m worried about an argument I had with someone and thoughts of revenge fog my brain, I pause, accept that this is how I am feeling right now, I do not fight it and just accept it and let it go. It’s powerful. Actually recognizing the pain helps make way for a better decision, a better outcome.

Cultivating Self-Compassion

We can practice radical acceptance (note: Tara is not talking about building a victim narrative here), by pausing and then meeting whatever is happening inside of us with an unconditional friendliness and compassion. The way you might treat your best friend or brother or sister.

I practice remembering that I cannot be a fair weather friend to myself. I will not push away anger, jealousy, or pain. Instead I will treat myself with compassion and understanding and recognize the anguish of this moment. This will allow me to create a safe haven for my vulnerability and to be present to the healing that can happen in my mind.

Recommended Reading from Tara Brach
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Maintaining Weight Loss, Healthy Eating on the Go and Spicing up any Damn Diet

spices

I have friends and family that live in the (new) Brooklyn. They are the cynical Williamsburg creatives.  So, when they asked me how I managed to shed 25 lbs, I’d channel my inner hipster-poser persona and told them I was adhering to a low cal, gluten-free, nutrient dense, slow carb, high-fiber, anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy, process-free, no sugar diet. Say what?  They would just look at me.thumb

Weight Loss Maintenance & Practicing Radical Self-Acceptance

I’ve been at my healthy goal weight since the end of May and I am not striving to meet the media standards of a perfect body. I don’t compare myself to anyone; I’m just really excited about finally paying some attention to myself and appreciate the gradual process of self-improvement; the small steps that I take each day while unveiling my best self. I am anxious about enough things in my life, I don’t need to add anxiety while transforming to a calmer, more peaceful person.

Get Inspired, Read
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Food Journaling

So what really works for me? Food journaling and staying really active. Read: like sweating every day for 60 – 90 minutes a day active. I say “works” and not “worked” because you can’t possibly think it’s over when you hit your goal weight. Oh, no, you’ve just begun. This is about lifetime change with lasting results. Now comes the daily discipline part. Almost harder than reaching the weight loss goal.   I started with the LoseIt app and now I use the Fitbit Charge. It is my third FitBit. The first two “Zip” style Fitbits just popped off my sports bra while I was out hiking. But that’s kind of just like me. Would you know I still look for my last lost Fitbit when I lunge through the intermediate school field? It’s been six months and I’m still tracking back my last steps. Talk about OCD.

Eating healthy on the go

I’m traveling to some of the hottest (and I mean degrees) places this month – Arizona, the Caribbean and South Florida; so the key to continued disciplined success with the slow carb lifestyle is planning ahead, especially while eating on the go. Just thinking about the food options at JFK makes me nuts. Now, the first thing I do when I get to my destination is hit the grocery store, to buy wine, because you can’t buy wine in a supermarket in NY. I think it’s so amazing that you can buy wine, and like a decent Sauvigon Blanc, at Publix in Punta Gorda.

No Need for Snacking

So there is no snacking on the slow carb diet. Just eat more of what you made for lunch and/or dinner.  However, when I slip into my let’s-worry-about-everything-going-really wrong mind, I imagine myself being stranded in the airport, hurricane conditions, with no food and freaking out about what I going to eat. So I always have a snack, but I rarely ever eat it, that crumbled (and probably stale) Nature Valley Peanut Butter bar thing at the bottom of my bag.

One thing about nuts

While they are healthy for you and permitted on the Four Hour Body slow carb diet in small quantities, I never snack on nuts, they are just too fattening. Best you don’t eat them at all. Don’t even start.

Curious about The Four Hour Body? Read more

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman

Dining Out

Dining out includes scouting cafes and restaurants (prior to your arrival) that have great salads. Salad with chicken,  salad with shrimp or chicken with vegetables, Thai chicken with vegetables, steak fajitas, riceless sushi, lettuce wraps, and when in a bind, a burrito bowl, hold the rice, at Chipolte.

When I am cooking at home I have found it’s the seasonings that spark joy with the slow carb diet. I typically grill and slice chicken breast and/or steak and toss them in the skillet with Goya small white beans and broccoli florets with spinach. My family is so sick of this meal. Oh well.

A word about all those beans on the slow carb diet – the easiest I found to digest Goya Premium Small White Beans 15.5 oz .

Here is what I ate for six months straight this past winter to lose the weight.

Breakfast

two scrambled eggs, beans and spinach or broccoli

(or whatever left over veggies I had in the fridge.)

Lunch

see chicken with broccoli above. Don’t forget the beans.

Dinner

see lunch.

The best thing to do is not make food a “thing” any more.  Make like you are a car and the food is your fuel. But just to keep things interesting, I change it up with some spices.

My favorite spices so far (and I am open to suggestions, so please share)

Dave’s Gourmet 6 Pure Dried Chiles, 1.97 Ounce

McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning, 29 ounce

Casina Rossa Truffle and Salt by Nicola de Laurentiis, 3.5 oz

Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Sweet Lime Pepper – 2.5 oz

Additional Tips from fans of the Four Hour Body

Everything you need to know about the slow carb diet @medium @liftapp.

Traveling and the Slow Carb Diet Slow Carb Diet.

A note about garlic

I do this thing with garlic in all my dishes. I chop it and brown it (slightly) and put it on everything except my eggs. Warning, I just read that leaving the garlic in the olive oil to “cool” at room temperature is dangerous – something about botulism. Who knew? So eat it hot. Roasted chopped garlic is a great replacement for fattening bacon on a bunless burger.

Are you a slow carb eater? I’d love to hear what has been successful for you.

be here now

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There is only one place to be. Here and now.

Why do our brains stubbornly insist on projecting us into the future when there is so much stuff to think about right here today? Why not be here now and there then?

The fact is that human beings come into the world with a passion for control, they go out of the world the same way, and research suggests that if they lose their ability to control things at any point between their entrance and their exit, they become unhappy, helpless, hopeless and depressed.  Read more Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

Which reminds me of a beautiful poem about radically accepting this moment.

There is no controlling life.

Try corralling a lightening bolt or containing a a tornado.

Dam a stream and it will create a new channel.

Resist and the tide will sweep you off your feet.

Allow, and grace will carry you to higher ground.

Allow by Danna Faulds
Go In and In: Poems From the Heart of Yoga

Photography  – Clark Little www.clarklittle.com