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Mystic India November 21, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Meditation, Music & Dance.
25 comments

In the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, taking time to press the “pause button” is important.  Here’s one of my favorite calming soothing mantras from the Mystic India CD:

To  further calm and soothe yourself:

Take a deep breath, expanding your belly. Pause. Exhale slowly to the count of five. Repeat four times.

Congratulations. You’ve just calmed your nervous system.

Controlled breathing, like what you just practiced, has been shown to reduce stress, increase alertness and boost your immune system. For centuries yogis have used breath control, or pranayama, to promote concentration and improve vitality. Buddha advocated breath-meditation as a way to reach enlightenment.

Science is just beginning to provide evidence that the benefits of this ancient practice are real. Studies have found, for example, that breathing practices can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder.

To read more: Breathe.  Exhale.  Repeat. (NY Times)

Aah . . . that’s better!

A 21 Day Happiness Challenge November 17, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Health & Wellness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
16 comments

Tigger-Looking-At-His-TailJulie (@ the Flexi Foodie) is leading a 21 Day Happiness Challenge starting December 3rd.

Just in time for the holidays!

What better gift to give yourself this holiday season than the joy of happiness?

From her site:

Get weekly emails with simple challenges and activities to help you say YES to your health and happiness during the hectic holiday season.

Happiness is healthy.

After 21 days you’ll have increased energy, you’ll sleep better, you’ll feel healthier, and you’ll feel happier. Just in time for the holidays.

10 minutes a day is all you need.

Each week I send you a challenge activity to do every day that week. Do the activity anytime during the day – whenever you can find a spare 10 minutes. The activity will boost your mood, your energy, and your health and will only take 10 minutes.

You will feel transformed from the inside out! Get ready to see how prioritizing small moments of self care can lead to a healthier, happier, you.

For all the details:  Join the FREE 21 Day Happiness Challenge

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“Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a giant tree in the midst of them all.”
~ The Buddha

Aah . . . that’s better!

 

Fire And Rain October 25, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Humor, Mindfulness, People.
35 comments

At Bridge one afternoon, the fire alarm in the Church Hall went off.  I looked up from my cards to assess the situation.

Inside:  No flames.  No smoke.  Exit doors just steps away.

Outside:  A torrential downpour.  A real gully washer.  Thunder. Lightning.

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After raising inquisitive eyes toward the blinking alarm box on the wall of the hall, no one moved from their seats.  Everyone seemed content to “wait and see” what the rest of the players planned to do.

The alarm rang out for about 30 seconds, then went silent.

After it stopped blaring, we issued a collective shrug and returned to playing cards, sensing it was a “false alarm” triggered by the staccato lightning strikes that had punctuated our play all afternoon.

Five minutes later, three burly firefighters in full regalia burst into the room.

They seemed as surprised by our presence as we were by their arrival.  After all, it’s not every day you see a dozen card players playing cards.

Regaining their composure, they strode across the floor and went straight to work checking the alarm boxes.

Glancing at the huddled trio, I sensed palpable displeasure that we hadn’t evacuated the building at the sounding of the alarm.  Waves of disapproval emanated from them.  They couldn’t understand why we were inside playing cards rather than huddled outside dodging raindrops and lightning bolts.

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Sure enough, as they turned to leave, one stopped to ask, “Did any of you hear the fire alarm go off?”

All nodded.  (Even those few who had left their hearing aids at home on their dressers.)

“And none of you exited the building?  You just kept playing cards?’

All nodded again.

Hearing no apology and sensing no sign of remorse, he turned from us in disgust and followed the other firefighters down the hall.

Figuring they had a handle on the situation, we returned our calm and concentrated attention to the cards in our hands.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Before And After October 17, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Health & Wellness, Vegetarian Recipes.
41 comments

Before I began the wheat-free experiment mid-September, we ate delicious meals of this and that:

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Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce * Steamed Broccoli & Carrots * Black Bean Salsa * Sliced Apple * 1/2 a Bagel

Since going wheat-free, we still eat this and that . . . I just don’t eat that other thing.

Here’s an example of an impromptu mix & match wheat-free lunch thrown together from “fixings” in the fridge and pantry:

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Carrot & Celery Sticks * Pepperocini * Hummus * Fritos * Black Bean Salsa * Broccoli Florets with Italian Vinaigrette

I do a bit more planning for dinners, but not much.  Here’s an example of a fresh from the oven wheat-free dinner:

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Twice Baked Potato * Roasted Asparagus * Roasted Cauliflower * Roasted Carrots * Mashed Sweet Potato * Pushcart Onions  & Peppers

Update: I’m still enjoying numerous benefits from eating wheat-free (better sleep, less neck pain, better digestion, less inflammation, better mood, less mental fog, better energy, less hunger) so I haven’t been tempted to add wheat back into my diet.  Yet.

Aah . . . that’s better!

You Can’t Beat Beets! October 13, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Health & Wellness, Vegetarian Recipes.
28 comments

Mr-RossiThe Farmer’s Market started up again on Saturday, October 1st, after a summer hiatus.  The Market, which runs from October to May (instead of May to October), includes artisans, musicians, bakers, butchers, fishmongers, and farmers.

I love seeing how far our veggie dollars go at the Market. Last visit, we spent a grand total of $18 and came home with this:

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kale * cucumbers * iceberg lettuce * broccoli * romaine * green peppers * zucchini * baking potatoes * sweet potatoes * beets * beet greens

What bounty!

Once home, I process the produce so that it’s ready to use at a moment’s notice:

* Wash and spin the lettuce
* Chop and sauté the beet greens and kale
* Steam or blanch the broccoli (or just cut it into florets for roasting)
* Store the potatoes and sweet potatoes in our “root cellar”
* Stash most of the cukes, peppers, and zucchini in the fridge

Last week, before leaving the kitchen, I made a pot of wheat-free Minestrone soup, using millet instead of macaroni.

By the time I finished chopping and dropping, the robust and hearty harvest soup included onions, peppers, zucchini, beets, beet greens, broccoli, carrots, celery, and tomato sauce.

Aah . . . that’s yummy!

Do you frequent Farmer’s Markets in season?

Just Breathe October 3, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Health & Wellness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
24 comments

Green-Yin-YangThe Yin and Yang of our nervous system are the sympathetic and parasympathetic.

When we are stressed, the sympathetic nervous system activates the fight-or-flight response.

In contrast, the parasympathetic nervous system governs the rest-and-relaxation response.

To recover from excess stress, we need only remember to press the “pause button” . . . by taking a deep breath.

Donald-DirectorBreathing triggers the relaxation response by signaling the vagus nerve to initiate a healing waterfall of hormones.

Once activated, those hormones calm us.  They also reduce cortisol levels, boost brain function, reduce inflammation, and lower heart rate and blood pressure.

So breathe.  Just breathe.

Aah . . . that’s better! 

A Wheat-Free Experiment September 29, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Less IS More.
54 comments

Donald-DuckaPerhaps more than any other food, wheat permeates our diet.

We find wheat in breads, bagels, baguettes, rolls, muffins, biscuits, cereals, granola bars, cakes, cookies, brownies, pies, puddings, pizza, pasta, tabbouli, crackers, pretzels, beer, chips, veggie burgers, etc.

As a vegetarian, my diet centers around fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, grains . . . and chocolate.

Giving up wheat was the furthest thing from my mind.

Woodstock-&-Snoopy3Or it was until I heard Dr. William Davis during a PBS Fundraising Special ~ Wheat Belly, Total Health.

At first, what he was saying flew in the face of “truths” I had assumed to be true about “heart-healthy whole grains.”

I laughed at his concerns while munching on a bagel.

But his comments stayed with me.

I requested a copy of his first book, Wheat Belly ~ Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, from the local library.

I read with resistance.

I.  Did.  Not.  Want.  To.  Give.  Up.  Pizza.

Donald-Duck-Lazy

What would life be like without wheat?

No Bagels for lunch. No Grapenuts cereal for breakfast. No Triscuit Crackers with peanut butter as a snack. No Macaroni & Cheese.  No Lo Mein.  No Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce.  No Minestrone Soup.  No Spaghetti.  No Lasagna.  No Grilled Vermont Cheddar on Toscano Pano.

No Pizza.

Donald-Duck-BaseballIn spite of my resistance to his message, I kept reading, wondering if there was even a wheat berry of truth to his claims.

He provided a number of anecdotes about people barely able to walk into his office due to excess weight, joint pain, and lack of energy, who (after giving up wheat) bounded into the office at their next visit.

Hmmm . . .

I decided to conduct a Wheat-Free Experiment to see what changes, if any, I noticed in the Health and Wellness department.

Donald-Duck-MadI assumed the first thing I would notice was anger and annoyance at being deprived of some of my favorite foods.

Nope.  My mood got better, not worse.

I assumed that without the adjunct of bread with lunch and dinner that I would be ravenous between meals and go to bed hungry.

Nope.  My appetite dropped without the appetite-stimulating effect  wheat has on the brain.

Mickey-In-HammockI assumed I would toss and turn in bed at night, with visions of sugar plum pudding dancing in my head.

Nope.  Instead of sleeping in 2-3 hours stints, I began sleeping for 3, 4, and 5 hour stretches.  I stopped waking every 2 hours for a pee break.  Once a night is now enough.  (I’ve also noticed fewer “pee prompts” from my bladder during the day.)

For the past week, I’ve woken feeling rested, awake, aware, and ready to face another Wheat-Free day.

The number on the bathroom scale has dropped a couple of pounds ~ this morning I weighed less than at any time in the last 10 years.

Mickey-OKLong-standing neck pain has improved ~> after just one wheat-free week, my neck is pain-free for the first time in at least two decades!

Afternoon headaches spiraling up from my neck have also disappeared.

The “mental fog” is lifting.  When I sit down to a task, I do so with greater cognitive clarity.

My youthful “can do” and “do it now” attitude has returned after an extended hiatus, allowing me to get things done today (e.g., writing this post) rather than putting them off until tomorrow . . . or the day after tomorrow.

Mickey-SurferIn a nutshell, I feel more like the “old me” ~> younger, more enthusiastic, more motivated, more alive.

That said, it’s still “early innings.”  I’m not ready to swear off pizza for the rest of my life.  Yet.

But, if these changes become the new norm . . . giving up pizza would be a small price to pay.

Aah . . . that’s better! 

EASY Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies September 19, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Less IS More, Vegetarian Recipes.
42 comments

Mickey-Ta-DaaaHere’s a quick and easy recipe for a healthy and portable breakfast treat.

Mash 2 ripe bananas.  Stir in one cup of Quick Oats.  Add a pinch of spice ~ cinnamon, ginger, allspice, apple pie spice, or your fave.

Add other items of interest (e.g., coconut, raisins, chocolate chips, dried cherries, nuts, sunflower seeds, etc.).

I didn’t have coconut or chocolate chips . . . so I chopped up a couple of miniature Almond Joy chocolate bars.   Yum!  

Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

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Aah . . . that’s easy!

Got Saw Dust? September 13, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Health & Wellness, Humor.
38 comments

Donald-DuckaOn the search for a better burrito, we scanned the 137+ varieties of tortillas available at Publix to find one with a healthy mix of ingredients.

Most flour tortillas had a gram of fiber.

The whole wheat tortillas had 2 grams of fiber.

Then we picked up a package of high fiber tortillas which boasted a whopping 11 grams of fiber.

Per tortilla, not per package.

Curious, we read through the ingredient list looking for the source of that fiber.

Donald-Duck-BaseballWas it from oats?  No.

Was it from bran?  No.

How about wheat germ?  Again, no.

Then we spied the fiber source . . . cellulose fiber.  Also known as wood pulp.

Well, you don’t have to hit me over the head with a baseball bat before I can figure out what’s going on . . .

Food manufacturers are obviously as concerned as consumers about getting more fiber into our food.

Wanting to avoid genetically modified FrankenFood, they turned to the forest and saw the trees!

Trees, standing tall and overflowing with pulpy goodness.

Real trees, not GMO trees loaded with FrankenFiber.

They called lumber yards and floor liquidators, ordering up 10,000 cubic tons of surplus saw dust to bulk up our food and our bellies.

Donald-Duck-LazyThey boiled it down and added it to cereals, granola bars, loaves of bread, ice cream, and tortillas.

And that, in a nutshell, is why processed food tastes like saw dust!

Aah . . . that’s better!

The Stunning Health Benefits of Meditation September 7, 2016

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Meditation, Mindfulness.
24 comments

Mickey-Ta-DaaaA friend sent me this e-mail about an upcoming on-line meditation workshop which might interest some of you:

Hi Friend,

Millions of people are taking a step back from the hectic stresses of life and finding a new peace and poise through the practice of mindfulness.

And now scientific studies are discovering that meditation can have profound health benefits. It’s been found to ease chronic pain, anxiety, and stress, and to improve heart health, boost mood and immunity, and even to help resolve infertility problems.

It seems that any condition that’s caused or worsened by stress can be helped through meditation.

There’s scientific evidence showing how meditation works, too. In people who are meditating, brain scans (brain MRIs) have shown an increase in activity in areas that control metabolism and heart rate. Other studies on Buddhist monks have shown that meditation produces long-lasting positive changes in brain activity in those areas involved in attention, working memory, learning, and conscious perception.

As if that wasn’t enough, studies have found that meditation can help to decrease metabolism, lower blood pressure, and improve heart rate, breathing, and brain waves.

If you’re interested in putting the healing power of meditation to work in your life, you might want to check out a free workshop from my friend and colleague, Craig Hamilton.

Craig has taught medication practices to tens of thousands of people around the world. In this complimentary workshop, he’ll share breakthroughs in meditation research – and how you can apply them for maximal benefit in your life.

Find out more and sign up here.

Yours for peace and wellness,

Ocean Robbins

Mickey-DancingThis FREE 75-minute Global Online Event with Craig Hamilton is scheduled for Tuesday, September 13th, at 6:00 PM US Pacific, 9:00 Eastern.

There is no charge to attend this event. Simply enter your first name and email address to register.

Find out more and sign up here.