Friday, May 17, 2013

Dancing with the Soil and the Sun

Birds, earth, river, fire, sunlight, seeds, hands, feet. These are my new tools and new teachers. Here, in Taos Pueblo, the TV sits covered in dust and the bed goes unmade. There isn't time to make the house picture perfect, isn't time to wipe the dirt from my boots as I come to drink water from my mason jar which sits on the counter covered with dirty dishes to be washed... Later. The peas need to be planted. The chickens need their scratch scattered on the ground. The sun and I race to be the first to hit the dirt. No time, no time, no time...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Searching for Satisfaction in the New Year

I have been searching for that thing that brings me satisfaction in my life. I believe that my heart is telling me that I have to begin to really learn to heal and to help other people. So, I am beginning to search harder, smarter, better. I am looking not online but for people who will show me options and help me to decide which path to choose.

This year, I am feeling how it is to listen to my inner voice and viscera.

How do you tune into your inner voice?

Awareness of Life

Living in a big city sometimes makes you less trusting. You learn to toughen to the people around you. Your mother tells you not to talk to strangers. You have eyes on the back of your head as you walk at night. You tune out the homeless man that you see ever day on your way to work. You stay anonymous. You keep your head down. You disconnect, put on your headphones, and tune out your environment.

Leaving the city for the mountains of New Mexico last fall made me realize the bubble I had built around me. I began my trip with pepper spray in fist. It was the first time I had planned a trip by myself, to a place I had never visited, to stay with people I had never met before. I kept my rolly suitcase close and my cell phone even closer. My first night, spent in Santa Fe, I walked alone down the street to get myself dinner and had never felt so afraid that I would be pulled into a car or assaulted on the street. Why? Because I was a woman and I was alone and I had been told again and again that you can't trust anyone.

But it became tiring to keep watch. A mishap on the train involving a fatal encounter with four cows on the rails began to soften me. As the woman next to me joked about picking a steak off of the rails for dinner, I smiled at the man across from me. I opened up to a young college student who shared my room at the hostel about herbalism. And shockingly, after arriving in Taos, NM, I found myself being picked up at the local Super Save by a woman I had never met or even spoken to on the phone. I was fed, had my palms read, and was given blankets and sheets for my own cabin all in exchange for my help around the hostel.

But I still held back. I kept locks on my suitcases and pepper spray in my pocket. I kept a padlock on my cabin door even when my fellow travelers left their doors open at all times. I kept my belongings close, and never told anyone any of my secrets.

One day, while walking out to the garden near my cabin a woman approached me. She asked if I had a few dollars to put gas in her car. She was looking for a friend at the hostel where I stayed and had not realized she had been so low on gas. If she could get a couple of gallons into her tank she could drive herself home to get her wallet so that she could then fill up her tank.

The city me screamed "Scam!" I had heard the sob stories before- my children are ill, I just lost my job, I need spare change to buy myself a cup of coffee to warm up. I had learned to tune them out. They could find someone else to help them, but I wasn't going to be the sucker who gave in.

Then I remembered the kindness of strangers as they gave me rides, bought me food, opened their doors to me. If I could not help, who would? I was jobless, and on a budget, but I told the woman I might have a few dollars in my room. As I handed her $3, she said she would pay me back. I told her thank you but not to worry. I thought to myself that I would never see the money again, because who would trouble themselves to come all the way back to return $3?

Later that day, I walked up to the door of my cabin to find a beautiful white mum wrapped in tissue stuck into the handle of my door, and three dollar bills slipped under my doorway. I was stunned.

Small acts lead to small changes, lead to confidence, lead to larger acts, bigger changes, more compassion. Remember the small act of kindness in your life that turned your day around. Return the favor. Compassion lives in each of us, and can be shown in the smallest way. So pass it on today and live with awareness and compassion.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Eating Grain with Chopsticks

Chopstick in your lunch box can turn a quick break into a zen moment when you try to eat your quinoa with them. I am a fast water, and fine it hard to slow down. According to my mentor, this can slow down the function of your kidneys and put out the "fire" in your center furnace that helps you to digest your food.

So, I eat my quinoa with chopsticks to remind myself to keep the fire burning.

Try it yourself- rice, quinoa, barley, even your oatmeal. Try eating your salad with chopsticks. How about your entire meal with chopsticks? Add some pepping or ginger tea and say thanks to your digestion system for its hard work.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Foot Baths for the Elderly

The holidays are a time to spend with family. I believe that they are also a time to go out of your way to give rather than receive. It's a time to try new things before the new year. It's time to show your love to those who are important to you and thank them for all they do.

My herbalist and acupuncture teacher suggested I give the gift of an herbal foot bath to my grandmother, and I thought that was a great idea, as it would be relaxing for her and give us time to talk together while also caring for her body.

Tonight I did a foot bath for her for the first time. She was excited that I was going to stick around to visit and was happy to chat about what she was thinking about, her hard work as a young farmer, and about what I was up to. Her feet splashed around in the old enameled basin that I found in my garage, which was most likely my grandmother's at one point

To do this, I found myself a large basin. I also found my set of massage stones, black round smooth stones, that I could place on the bottom of the basin for an extra sensory experience.

I then made a strong tea by steeping pine branches with a satchel full of lavender and eucalyptus. Mmmm. I placed that in a container to bring to grandma with the basin and stones.

I warmed up the water and took off Grandma's socks. She sat in her glider and splashed her feet in the warm water while we chatted about the news and life in general, past and present. When the water finally cooled, I took her feet and massage them with apricot oil. I think she liked is more than the foot bath because she said I could stay all night if I liked to rub her feet.

She loved it and I think she slept peacefully even if she said she couldn't smell the lavender and pine :) .

Happy Holidays to you all, and I hope you are all able to take time to give back with compassion. Peace!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cilantro & Coriander- A Delicious Herb For Your Circulation

Cilantro/Coriander is a love it or leave it herb. Many people enjoy eating cilantro fresh and use coriander in their curries and soups. Others can't stand the smell. But for those who enjoy it, cilantro and coriander can offer great health benefits when eaten either as fresh leaves or dried seeds.

First off, cilantro is RICH in many vitamins and minerals. It is particularly known for its vitamin A and K content, with 225% and 250% of your recommended daily intake respectively. It is also rich in many vital vitamins including folic-acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-A, beta carotene, and vitamin-C. It also contains many of the minerals that are essential to good circulation and red blood cell production. 

Coriander is also high in anti-oxidents, and most people know that anti-oxidents are necessary for anti-aging and protection against many illness that appear as people grow older. Eating cilantro while you are young will help to protect your body as you grow and age (along with a healthy diet and exercise, of course!) 

coriander and cilantro

This recipe includes cilantro as a lovely garnish. I think the more the better on this dish. And if your cilantro plant has gone to seed, green coriander seeds do well too. It's really yummy!

Yields 8 to 10 side-dish servings; 6 main-course servings.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded if desired, then minced
4 to 5 cups vegetable broth as needed
2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into
1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
1 bay leaf
1 pound Swiss chard, center ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/3 cup finely chopped tamari almonds, for garnish (optional), available in health food stores
1/4 cup chopped scallions, for garnish.

1. In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, garam masala, curry powder and jalapeno. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

2. Stir in 4 cups broth, sweet potatoes, lentils and bay leaf. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, partially cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. (If lentils seem dry, add up to 1 cup stock, as needed.) Stir in chard and salt and pepper, and continue cooking until lentils are tender and chard is cooked, about 30 to 45 minutes total.

3. Just before serving, stir in cilantro, lime zest and juice. Spoon into a large, shallow serving dish. Garnish with almonds if desired and scallions.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hand and Foot Scrub

granulated sugar scrub

You don't have to spend $25 for a bottle of expensive body scrub. Look around in your kitchen, and you are sure to find the ingredients for making great body scrubs. Sugar, cornmeal, lemon juice, and cooking oils aren't just great for cooking, they are also great cleansers for the skin.

pumice stone

Here are a couple of recipes to pamper your hands and feet from the book Secrets of the Spa by Catherine Bardey.

Apricot Oil & Sugar Hand Exfoliator

1/2 cup granulated sugar
 2 tbsp. apricot oil
juice of 1/2 lemon

Combine ingredients and immediately rub the mixture on hands. Rinse with warm water. Pat dry and moisturize.

Lemon juice

Cornmeal & Pumice Foot Scrub

1/2 cup dry cornmeal
2 tbsp. avocado or olive oil
1 pumice stone

Mix cornmeal and oil. Spread on feet and rub skin with a pumice stone, concentrating on heels and callused areas. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

You are always welcome to try different oils and exfoliating ingredients, like oatmeal, clay, jojoba oil, almond oil, avocados, and essential oils. I personally love brown sugar in my sugar scrubs, and a little bit of citrus essential oils. Do what you like, and what feels and smells good to you!