Archive | November, 2011

Jonathan

29 Nov

Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they’re yours.”
– Richard Bach

Richard Bach is an author and a pilot.  Didn’t we all read  his book Jonathan Livingston Seagull as a child?  I was just talking to my parents about that book last week.  One of my brothers too.  We had that book when I was growing up.  I must have read it a million times.  We all did.  I will never forget the shades of blue on the cover, with a bird soaring to new heights, a lone white figure cutting through the blue.  Now my children are reading it.

It is quick read, is filled with inspiration, and means something different every time it is read.  A different yet equally meaningful passage jumps off the pages each time one thumbs through the story.  Phrases that make you pause,  involuntarily take your eyes off the page to gaze into the distance unseeing for a moment while the words work their way through your mind.  And take root.  Grow.  Encourage.  Stimulate.

If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.  It will renew your spirit if you let it.  It is a book from the voice of a seagull named  Jonathan.  He is not like the other gulls, and as one could imagine, becomes a bit of an outcast as a result.  But he continues doing what he loves best, flying fast and challenging himself more every day.  Other seagulls merely fly to find food and eat.  Jonathon forgets to eat, instead flies higher, harder, and faster to push himself, to find the joy and excitement of another horizon…one normally not visible until the boundaries are pushed.  He learns to soar.  And the gifts, once that is achieved, are worth the sacrifice.  I enjoyed the book as a child, and am indebted to the dear friend that brought this book back into my life as an adult.

My daughter and I recently went on a college visit.  We had a 2 hour car ride to get to the school, and she brought Jonathan Livingston Seagull to read out loud in the car.  She had read it previously, but wanted to read it again.  Together.  So we read and talked.  About life, about goals, about living your dream.  About pushing through barriers, listening to your own voice, giving your dreams flight.  Because as every great pilot understands, one must generate propulsion before flight.  The engines have to start and run.  The energy has to be present.  You gotta walk before you run!  You have to dream before you can accomplish.  You must set goals, take steps,  generate forward movement.  Generate such propulsion that if someone dare step in the path of your dream, you can’t stop!  You power forward and never let yourself or others stop dreams from becoming a reality.

Now sometimes it is easy to begin to generate that power, start heading forward in a positive direction, then get scared.  Let our engine sputter out and die.  Allow doubt to take seed and sprout.  Sometimes, if we don’t stop ourselves, be become our own worst enemy.  Moving forward can be frightening, especially when you pick up speed.  It is tempting sometimes to back off and accept defeat.  But resist you must!  Remember quotations like the one at the top of this post.  You can talk yourself into limitations.  Or talk yourself into soaring!   Thomas Edison once said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

As Richard Bach said, if you argue for your limitations, you own them.  Don’t do it.  I have fallen prey to this pitfall, and I curse myself once the realization of self sabotage hits me.  Get those negative thoughts out of there to make way for positive movement.  Propulsion.  Forward with force.  Believe in yourself.  Don’t let others tell you that you cannot achieve your dream.  I try to use all tools possible to keep moving in the right direction.  Sometimes that is as simple as this:  when I see a great quote that is meaningful, that speaks to me, that propels me, I print it out or write it down.  I then put it someplace around where it is visible, whether it’s in my office at work, on my bathroom mirror at home, or taped to the kitchen fridge.

Positive thinking is critical to wellness.  So important to good health.  A good outlook and a happy disposition can be life changing.  Turn that negative voice into one that accepts no borders, no obstacles.  Don’t allow limits to stop you.  Dream.  And dream big.  Start your engines, get ready and allow yourself to be propelled forward.  Soar into your visions, your goals, your future!  And leave those limits behind!  Everything is achievable.  Put aside those limitations-don’t make them yours.  And allow the good health to wash over you.  I end with another Richard Bach quote to ponder and inspire:

“You’re never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true.”

Speggtacular!

28 Nov

Eggs have gotten a bad rap in the media.  They have become the bad boy of high cholesterol.  And true, they do contain a high amount, but that does not mean they are to be totally avoided in our diet.  Eggs are very versatile, a good source of protein, and can be a part of most any healthy diet in moderation.

A word about cholesterol.  It is transported in our blood with a protein, and it’s a little sticky and waxy.  Interestingly enough, our body actually makes most, if not all, of the cholesterol we need.  Cholesterol is made in our liver.  Isn’t that cool?  Our body uses cholesterol in a couple of ways, but mostly to protect nerves.  It is also used for tissue and hormone production, so it does have an important function in the body.

There is the good cholesterol, and its job is to remove some of the bad cholesterol from our blood.  Kind of like a little pac man.  It chomps through the blood collecting the bad cholesterol.  It then returns it to the liver to be eliminated as waste.   There is also the bad cholesterol, which we want to limit.  Too much of the bad cholesterol sticks together and clogs arteries.  That’s a bad thing. So it is important to keep cholesterol in the diet low.  Too much cholesterol can put us at risk for heart disease and stroke.  The good news is that high cholesterol is both preventable and treatable, but its best to focus on the prevention part!

Our body also gets cholesterol from food we eat that contain it.  And like anything, too much is not healthy.  Where is cholesterol found? In what foods?  It is found in food that comes from animals, like meat and dairy products.  Shellfish can also contain moderately high amounts of cholesterol too.  However, the real contributing factor to high cholesterol with shellfish is in the preparation method, such as frying.  Who doesn’t love fried shrimp?  So both the shellfish as well as frying contribute to the high cholesterol in  shellfish.

But back to our eggs.  Eggs are a wonderful source of protein.  They also have riboflavin (also called B2), B12 (important for metabolism), selenium (helps prevent cellular damage), and phosphorus (works with calcium to build strong teeth and bones).  So you see, eggs can make a great contribution as part of your healthy diet, but in moderation.  How should they be prepared?  So any ways!  That is one of the things that makes eggs great-versatility!  They can be hard boiled or scrambled.  Cooked a million ways!  One of my favorite ways to eat eggs is to make an omelet.  Here is a simple recipe for an easy omelet.

Omelet

1 whole egg

1 egg white

3 T skim milk

salt and pepper to taste

Crack the eggs into a bowl.  Add milk, salt and pepper.  Whisk with a wire whisk or a fork until yellow and a bit fluffy.  Spray an 8 inch saute pan with non stick cooking spray.  Heat until a drop of water sizzles on the surface.  Pour eggs into pan.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula, flip omelet over.  Reduce heat to low and cook another 1-2 minutes until desired doneness.  Fold in half and slide onto a plate.

Now here is where it gets exciting.  You can fill an omelet with anything.  Ham, cheese, or my favorite for a super healthy omelet, vegetables.  When you flip the omelet, that is when you can add your filling.  I love to add roasted red peppers, onions, spinach, and really get creative!  I even use leftovers.   What?  Leftovers?  You bet!

I love to make spinach casserole.  Baked spinach casserole, with its creamy garlic, cheese and fat free milk makes a great side dish.  The next morning I will make a healthy omelet, fill it with some leftover baked spinach casserole, make a piece of whole wheat toast, and have a yummy meal!  Delish!  And when made using butter and fat sparingly, it is healthy.

Eggs can be hard boiled and sliced to add to a fresh green garden salad.  Again, use the whites and maybe only part of the yolk to keep the fat and cholesterol low and the nutrition high!  So enjoy the versatility, flavor and health benefits of working a couple of eggs into your weekly diet.

Food Quirks

16 Nov

I am not even sure if “food quirks” is an actual term to the lay man.  But being a foodie, I know exactly what it means.  Foodies are a unique (read strange) bunch.  We love looking at food, preparing food, talking about food, and just generally expressing ourselves in culinary terms as much as we can.  We also have a certain haughty sensibility about us when discussing food.  But we definitely have our food quirks.  And we are proud of them!  We own them and aren’t afraid to flaunt them at any cocktail party or wine dinner.  In fact, we take pride in marching our peculiarities right out in front of every one.  They set us apart from the pack.  We flaunt ’em baby!

What is a quirk exactly?  Well it can be defined in a couple of ways, such as a peculiar trait or idiosyncrasy.   An eccentricity if you will.  Now doesn’t that sound sophisticated?  Another foodie hears the term “food quirk” and nods with quiet collusion connecting on a culinary level, perhaps just a smirk as indication that the quirk is understood and respected.  Brandishing our quirks is just what we do, and do it with style that makes us a true “foodie”.  It is woven into our being, evident in our vernacular.   How can food be quirky?

I have a couple of quirks, and they certainly are distinctive.  For example, I have a sweet tooth that can only be satisfied by whatever specific sweet I am craving.  But it has to be perfect.  Sometimes I really want a candy bar or a piece of candy.   But it has to stand alone.  What does that mean?  No matter how much I am craving candy, I will never eat candy out of the “Halloween bowl” of candy that over flows from trick-or treating.  Or the bowl of leftover candy that did not get handed out to little ghosts and goblins.  Why not?  Because I will not eat candy that has touched another piece of candy.  I don’t mean the same candy out of the same bag it came in.  I mean candy that has touched other nonlike candy.  I will not eat a candy bar that has been laying next to a mint.  Or a piece of bubble gum.  If chocolate has touched hard candy, I can crave it all day but won’t touch it if the only candy I have access to is from a mixed bowl of candy.   It just does not taste the same to my highly developed and very sophisticated taste buds.  Pretty crazy, huh?

No use trying to explain this quirk to anyone.  It is what it is.  I have endured raised eyebrows, jaw dropping gasps, and crinkled up eyes when my peculiar trait rears its ugly head.  Sure it defies logic, but us foodies aren’t afraid or intimidated by our unique approach to food.  Even I admit that it is strange to not eat an M&M that has touched a wax paper covered peanut butter kiss in the Halloween bowl.  But I won’t.

Non foodies have quirks too, but they are not appreciated with such passion as a foodie.  They don’t have the same positive spin as a foodies highly honored quirks.  One of my friends will not eat a casserole.  She has an aversion to food touching other food and will not eat casseroles.  It does not matter if she likes every individual flavor and food in that casserole.  Together they don’t work for her.  It’s that simple.  My brother Mike will not eat cheese.  But the only kind of pizza he orders is cheese.  Go figure.  We all have them.  The difference is that I am a foodie, they are not.  Which is fine.  No biggie.  But the difference is that I embrace my quirk, they are slightly embarrassed of theirs.  Makes excuses for it with a nervous giggle.  Something a foodie will never do. No sir.  We enjoy our food oddity (or oddities!), and believe me, we all have at least one.

Embrace your food quirks!  Strut them out for all to see.  Don’t let your food touch!  Who cares?  Don’t eat cheese but order only cheese pizza.  Let it all hang out!  Individuality is inspiring, not limiting!  Food is fun, exciting, and passionate.  Love your quirks…celebrate your oddity with humor, acceptance, and embrace your originality!

GNO!

7 Nov

A GNO at home! Happy Times!

Talk about wellness!  The ultimate nod to good health is a GNO-that is what my friends and I call our Girls Night Out.  Also referred to by some of the husbands and significant others as Chicks on the Loose.  Sometimes we go to a restaurant, sometimes we just all grab some food and go to someone’s house. It doesn’t matter where we go.  Either way, a GNO is a must for good overall health.  Any way you slice it, a GNO is a huge contributing factor to good mental, spiritual, and physical health.  How so?  Oh puleez!

Every GNO provides a mental release.  There is no problem that a glass of wine and some good chit chat can’t solve!  When my girls and I get together, we just let it rip.  No topic is taboo or off limits.  We can say whatever is on our mind, especially because we honor the “Girl Code”, meaning the buck stops here, without question!  What happens at GNO stays at GNO.  No one breathes a word of what we talk about or disclose within our tight circle of confidants.  That element allows us to giggle, cry, huff and puff our way through a solid venting session, usually part of a GNO.   And with that little bit of venting, the daily tensions, with hysterically retold stories using wild hand gestures and a healthy dose of humor, just slip away.  Aaaahhh, the health benefits of a GNO!

Our discussions cover every thing from soup to nuts, switching from one topic to another with lightening speed, but we do vent sometimes.  We just need the release of talking about life in general, getting things off our chest, having a good laugh and moving on.  Women approach venting with understanding, sympathy, and good natured sarcasm.  We nod, we agree, we feel the emotions of one another.  Men seem to, for the most part, want to problem solve when some female venting comes their way.  Which is fine, a very reasonable response.  But girls, women, well we just need to blow off steam sometimes.  Nothing more, nothing less.  We just like to get crap off our chest and move on!  This mental relief is good for the body too, no doubt.

A GNO is good for physical health?  Oh heck yeah!  In addition to polishing our lovely physical attributes to take our hot selves out in style, we also plan our future runs or hikes.   Sipping our cocktails looking oh so pretty is when we decide on our next group activity or “field trip”.  Keeping active and fit together is (nearly) as much fun as our GNO’s!  My girlfriends and I get together to walk, run, hike, bike, and even go indoor rock climbing.  We keep each other motivated to keep going.  It is important to keep moving.  And why not do it with your girlfriends to make it just that much more fun?  Sign me up for another dose of good health and wellness!

And with my girlfriends, GNO’s are certainly spiritual.  I do everything with my friends, including pray.  There is something so affirming about holding hands with friends, closing our eyes, and letting the burdens of our heart go.  We pray in support of one another, in thanks for our blessings, and, of course, for our close friendships.  It is a bonding experience and a meaningful spiritual connection that anyone would be lucky to have.  It is a wonderful level of intimacy that when shared certainly warms the heart.  There is also a great deal of comfort that stems from sharing heart felt prayers, released burdens, and humble gratitude with friends.  Although I do not have scientific documentation, I would almost guarantee that this fellowship lowers blood pressure.  Again, good for the body.

Rarely do my friends and I end a phone conversation or time together without sending an “I love you” to each other.  We just are not afraid of those 3 little words.  In fact, our friendships embody those words, bring them to life in a way that is not romantic or vain.  Just peaceful and loving.  Affirming.  The depth of heart that is shared between friends is a value that I will forever cherish.  That type of love between friends where there is no fear of being laughed at, made fun of, or rejected is a deeply valued friendship.  Oh sure, that takes lots of work, but make no mistake, it’s worth every ounce of nourishment.  When you can let it all hang out, boogers, warts and all, and your friends simply love you for who you are?  They delight in your crazy off the wall silliness?  Brag about your strengths to others?  Depend on you and call on you in their time of need?  And you feel the same way about them?  Well honey, that rocks!  So good for the body!

I have a teen-aged daughter.  As hard as she tries, she does get caught up in teen-aged girl drama every once in a while.  Let’s face it, high school can be rough as far as relationships go.  Some girls can, at times, be catty and cruel.   Silently aggressive.   When my daughter confides in me that there is some girl drama swirling around her, I help her best I can.  We talk our way though it.  I tell her about some of the high school drama that I had to endure.  Then I promise her that girls are not always this way.  And she knows that.  She sees the relationships that I have with my girlfriends.  She sees that friends are for sharing, not for keeping to yourself.  She sees laughter, security, respect, faith, and love in my relationships with my friends.  At some point that teenaged pettiness fades away, and lovely supportive mature girlfriend relationships blossom.  My daughter will grow into a woman and have her own GNO’s.  And she too will experience the benefit to overall good health from each and every GNO!  What are YOU waiting for?

GNO hits the town!