A Place to Work and Create

I spent yesterday in my creative studio…the place I have set aside to work and create in. However, as I have shared previously, this room also tends to collect “stuff”. It is possible that every house has that sort of room…the one junk mail, books, papers and odds and ends get tossed into, with the intention of sorting through it later.

Traditionally, I use the holiday season to declutter this room so that I can decorate in it. But this year I had strong motivation to tackle this task early. After months of limping along on a dying laptop, and then finally closing it up for the last time, I purchased a new one. My messy studio is symbolic of the way I’ve been working lately…I’m all over the place, and out of place, and I can feel that, energetically. It was time to shift that and get back into my studio.

A Place to Work and Create

Cluttered Space Equals Cluttered Energy

Yesterday’s task was to create a better flow of energy in the room. I know better than to let things pile up. And yet, I get “busy” and let it happen, until the reduced energy flow literally keeps me out of the room. When I start avoiding a room or a space, it’s a strong signal to clear it.

A Place to Work and Create

This side of the studio wasn’t too bad, and look at that gorgeous sunlight streaming in through the windows. I love this small room because it has six windows that overlook the garden. And I have happy associations with this space. Previously it served as my son’s room and then my older daughter’s room when the kids switched bedrooms. I can hear the echoes of their laughter in here.

A Place to Work and Create

But what happened on the other side of the room? Stuff happened. Some of those items are garden related, but most of the clutter is from me dropping something in here and then not finding a place for it. Clutter kills my creativity. That’s not true for everyone. Some people thrive in a cluttered environment. I know myself well and this does not work for me.

My task yesterday was to DO something with each out of place item: toss it, put it away or drop it into a donation box. I carted out two bags of trash, have a box to go to Goodwill, and the rest was put away or found a new place to occupy. The great surprise from yesterday was uncovering a watercolor my daughter created almost 20 years ago. That beauty is hanging in my bedroom tonight.

A Place to Work and Create In

A Place to Work and Create In

A Place to Create

After a satisfying day of decluttering, today I have a beautiful and functional place to work and create in. Gone are the piles of stuff on the floor and the overflowing workspaces are neat, organized and inspiring. I am surrounded by the things that inspire me: family photos and keepsakes, vintage items repurposed to serve in new ways, maps of my recent trips, art, my coloring supplies, and a bookcase full of favorite books. I have a reading chair. And on my writing table my mascot Absolem the caterpillar, from Alice in Wonderland, perches on his mushroom and watches me. When I talk to him, and trust me, I do, I imagine he answers in Alan Rickman’s voice. (Google that if you wonder why!)

I spent the day in my creative studio. Real estate work occupied my time first. And then….I shifted to creation mode as I work to take both of my blogs to the next level. I do not use the word “work” lightly. Technology can be daunting and if I look at where I want to be, it is overwhelming. However, as I proved to myself today, I can do it…one step at a time.

A Place to Work and Create In

A Place to Work and Create In

Creating My Reality

In the Star Trek series, the holodeck was introduced during Next Generation. I loved the idea of being able to walk into an empty room and energetically create anything place, any time period, and interact with the environment. My kids used to tease me that it was good I didn’t have access to a holodeck, or I might never leave it.

This space, this creative studio, is my tiny earth bound version of a holodeck. I have the ability to create the life I want here…or at least, set it into motion. The room isn’t empty. It is full of the things that I love. However, the flow of energy is full of the potential of creation and it ripples outward from this space. Guided by the Divine, I am creating my reality and happily interacting with it.

The best part is….when I leave this room, it doesn’t all disappear, as it did in Enterprise’s holodeck. It is manifesting, continuously, in my world. Life is good, indeed.

A Place to Work and Create

 

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The Relentless Call of the Sea

I found a sea lion today. Cleaning in my studio, I got carried away decluttering and dared to tackle the closet in that room. How wonderful it feels to me, to clear space and bask in the lightness that accompanies the increased flow of energy. As I emptied a drawer in the closet, I made a delightful discovery. Years ago my daughter Elissa created a watercolor of a sea lion, perched upon a rock, in the desert. Her work of art was inspired by a beautiful story.

In recent years it has been my joy to haul treasures out of storage and use them or hang them or set them where I can see them and appreciate them. Studying the watercolor, remembering the sea lion’s story and Elissa’s journey and mine, I knew that work of art would not go back into the closet.

The Relentless Call of the Sea

The Lost Sea Lion

The story of the sea lion comes from the book, Journey of Desire, by John Eldredge. It is woven throughout the book, an integral part of the narrative.

I’ve summarized the story below.

Desire

There once was a sea lion who had lost the sea. He lived in the barren lands, far from the coast, on a dry and dusty plateau. He couldn’t remember how he came to live there, but he had been there so long that he thought of it as home.

The sea lion asked every traveler who passed by if they could help him find his way back to the sea. But no one knew the way. Finally the sea lion took refuge beneath a solitary tree beside a small muddy water hole. He settled down there and learned to survive.

In the evenings the sea lion would sit upon his favorite rock. On the best nights a faint smell of salt air would come to him on the breeze. Closing his eyes, he would imagine himself once more in the sea. And sleeping he dreamed of a vast, deep ocean. The sea called to him.

Loss of Desire

Night after night he dreamed of the sea. Eventually it became too much. He only visited his rock occasionally. Waking so far from home was a disappointment. The day came when the sea lion quit visiting his rock and no longer lifted his nose to catch the sea breezes.

His friend the tortoise, who was really a sea turtle who had left the ocean many years ago, told the sea lion, “You must learn to be happy here.” With his words he convinced the sea lion that the sea had forgotten him and that in time he would forget all about diving deeply beneath the cool water. The tortoise told stories about his adventures, and eventually the memory of the sea faded. Between the solitary tree and the muddy water hole the sea lion lived his life. The sea no longer filled his dreams.

One day the fierce desert winds began to blow and for many days they did not cease. When the wind storm was over the sea lion looked around in disbelief. The tree was stripped of its leaves and the water hole dried up. Three weeks later, the sea lion dreamed again of the sea. The water was clear and deep and in this dream, he was surrounded by other sea lions. They played in the water around him.

Journey of Desire

Tears streamed from his eyes as he awoke from the wonderful dream. He did not even pause to wipe them away. The sea lion set his face toward the east and began to walk. “Where are you going?” asked the tortoise.

“I am going to find the sea.”

The Relentless Call of the Sea Artwork by Elissa Moore

A Relentless Call

Re-reading the sea lion’s story moved me deeply. How easy it is to not only lose our way, but to lose the desire to find our way to that which calls to us and haunts our dreams.

It is not a mistake that I found Elissa’s beautiful portrayal of the sea lion, longing for the sea. During this part of my own journey, as I long for that which calls to me, the painting and the story remind me not to settle, not to give up. I am created for more. My dreams call to me because they are what I am created for.

I am a sea lion surviving in the desert…a queen sea lion…dreaming of the sea.

Awake, I have remembered who I am and what I am made for. The watercolor and the story are wonderful reminders to keep walking toward the object of my desire…toward the life I know I was born to live.

I framed Elissa’s artwork and hung it in my bedroom, next to my bed, where I will see it morning and night. Beneath it on the bedside table rests the picture I drew, of the pawn seeing the reflection of the queen in the mirror.

They are all marvelously connected, these magical, enchanting, Divinely inspired “dots”. As they coalesce, a bigger picture is forming. I am breathless with anticipation, to see what appears.

The Relentless Call of the Sea

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Pierced by Beauty

I love rainy Sundays. The falling rain curtains the house, shutting away the world and encouraging me to stay indoors and rest or participate in light, enjoyable activities. Several times today, the words of Simone Weil came to me.

“There are only two things that pierce the human heart. One is beauty. The other is affliction.”

I understand those words. My heart has been run clean through by both in my lifetime. I much prefer being undone by beauty. For today’s Sunday Short, I chose to share some of the beautiful arrows that have pierced my heart, by way of photos.

Pierced by Beauty

My heart is pierced by the beauty of …

Nature

Pierced by Beauty

Water

Pierced by Beauty

The Garden

Pierced by Beauty

My Family

Pierced by Beauty

Venice, Italy

Pierced by Beauty

My Beloved Scotland

Pierced by Beauty

Beauty Surrounds Me

The photos above are just a sampling of the beauty that moves me to my core. In truth, if I am open and aware, with eyes to see, I can be pierced daily by the beauty found in a sunrise, a stranger’s smile, a gorgeous fox running through a field, piles of fresh fruit, autumn leaves quivering on a tree, or a silver moon high in the night sky.

I am grateful for beauty’s ability to find the heart no matter how protected it may be. Even the most barricaded heart cannot withstand the sharp, sweet agony of great beauty. Nature, art, humanity, animals, architecture, candlelight all soften us and expand us so that we may then receive, and give, joy, hope, compassion and love.

Taking in beauty allows me to know I am enough. I’ve done enough. I can breathe it in and sit quietly with it, in deep appreciation. Beauty nurtures me and sustains me and leads me onward.

Pierced by Beauty

7 Truths About Positive People

I admit it. I’m a positive person. Put simply, positive people are hopeful, encouraging and optimistic, even when faced with challenges, problems or set backs. Being optimistic isn’t the same as being unrealistic, although I’ve been accused of that. It also doesn’t mean that higher energy people don’t feel sadness, grief, anger or uncertainty occasionally. They just don’t get taken out by those situations and emotions.

I’ve compiled a short list of seven truths about positive people, characteristics that can be adopted by anyone who desires to shift a negative attitude.

7 Truths About Positive People

1. They express gratitude.

Expressing gratitude aloud, through prayer, meditation or song, or in journals is essential. One negative experience during the day can overshadow the good experiences we had. Expressing gratitude shifts attention from the negative to the positive. Research has shown that gratitude significantly increases happiness and wellbeing while lowering stress, anxiety and depression.

Tip: Strengthen your gratitude by writing five things you are grateful for, at the end of each day.

2. They reframe challenges.

Positive people don’t live challenge free lives. They view them differently. A challenge can shut us down or shift us into victim mode or present an opportunity for growth. I choose to see the potential for learning and growing. One of my favorite things to remember when encountering a problem is that someday I will look back at this time and see the tremendous shifts that occurred as a result.

Tip: During a challenging time, write a letter to yourself from your future self, five years down the road, detailing how you grew through this time. Bonus: Save the letter and read it five years later.

3. They look for the silver lining.

Bad things happen and tragedies occur. Positive people don’t pretend bad things never happen. They do what they can to help themselves and others through the experience, without glossing over what happened. And, they look for that silver lining. Looking for the good, they find it. The 2011 tornado in Joplin was devastating. Lives were lost. An unbelievable amount of damage was done. I was affected as was my family. As a result of that destruction however, a community came together. Whole neighborhoods changed, for the better. Volunteers blessed us. And I got new dirt, in a new yard, and at last created my long dreamed of Backyard Paradise.

Tip: Practice looking for the good when bad things happen…for what we focus on, we find. If we look for good, we will find it. If we look for bad, we will find that too.

4. Positive people practice excellent self care.

We cannot take care of others, and encourage them, unless we first do the same for ourselves. Self care looks differently for everyone, however a solid foundation includes eating healthy foods, getting enough rest, being active, spending time doing favorite things, and developing a spiritual practice. Positive and negative have to do with energy. Positive energy has a higher vibration while negative energy is lower. Taking care of the body, mind, emotions and spirit results in a higher vibrational frequency that we experience as bliss and joy.

Tip: Create an easy to follow self care regimen that includes diet, rest, exercise, fun and a spiritual practice.

7 Truths About Positive People

5. They use positive words.

Positive people express themselves with positive words. Words are powerful. They create reality. We literally speak our reality into existence. Don’t believe me? Start your day with a string of low energy, negative words and see how your day progresses from there! The words we speak to ourselves and about ourselves are crucial as well. If we constantly criticize ourselves or call ourselves names, we will live up…or down…to that spoken expectation. And if we are in the habit of criticizing ourselves, we are much more likely to criticize others. In spite of the nursery rhyme “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”, words DO hurt. Negative words have a negative impact on the body. For a fascinating study about this truth, see Dr. Emoto’s work.

Tip: Wear a wrist band or a simple rubber band around the wrist and every time you catch yourself saying negative words, or even having negative thoughts, flip it. Set a goal of going an entire day without speaking negatively.

6. They don’t dwell on the past.

Dwelling in the past, blaming the past, does not contribute to a positive now. The past is unchangeable. Thinking about what’s happened, reliving it or talking about it constantly keeps us stuck there. And it keeps our energy low. Low energy = negative energy. I love the expression about not looking at the past…we aren’t going that way. Positive people focus on the present moment and let the future unfold. Sure, we can have dreams and goals for the future. Stressing about outcomes though isn’t helpful either. Let go of the past. Turn around. Live in the moment. Embrace what comes.

Tip: Create a focus word that immediately brings you into the present moment, when you realize you are dwelling on a past experience. My word is adsum, which means “I am here”. Use any word that is meaningful to you.

7. They don’t get drawn into other people’s drama.

Drama has a negative, draining effect. Some people, however, seemed to prefer to dwell there and want to ensnare others to occupy that space with them. Misery loves company. Eliminating drama from our lives means refusing to get drawn into it to begin with. Which in turn means being careful about who we hang out with. Because like draws like, being positive will naturally attract more positive people while being unattractive to negative people. Positive people may occasionally have to deal with drama, however they do not stay in that space. It does not feel good.

Tip: If you find a lot of drama going on around you, use it as a sign to increase positivity in your life. Use the six tips above to shift your energy. When you must deal with drama, offer help and then exit the situation as quickly as possible and practice extreme self care.

I don’t regret being a positive person. Truthfully, I don’t know any other way to be. Being positive doesn’t make me unsympathetic toward others. Rather, it gives me empathy and compassion for others, especially those who are struggling or hurting.

Recently my granddaughter, who is an old soul in a young body, said to me, “Yaya, you’re a positive person. What do you think about this?” She went on to talk to me about a very negative situation. How precious and tender her heart is, and how special the opportunity she offered. I told her that yes, I’m a positive person but that bad things are not okay with me. They make me angry or sad too, however I don’t stay that way for long. I attempt to change what I can and hope for the best. I let her see the tears in my eyes and I saw the tears in hers. Our conversation ended with hugs and I love yous.

That’s what’s at the heart of a positive attitude. Love. Love and the desire to do good in the world and good in the lives of others and to see things in the best possible light. I can do that. You can do that.

7 Truths About Positive People

Another Once Upon a Time

Tonight’s brief post is really a continuation of yesterday’s story, a conclusion…or perhaps the bridge to a new beginning…another once upon a time.

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

The George Bernard Shaw quote above inspired me to be aware of blame by noticing when the word “because” shows up in my words or thoughts. I think I wrote Stop Blaming Circumstances for myself, as that word “because” has popped up several times lately.

Another Once Upon a Time

I considered ending that post with another favorite quote that tied in.

“She left the old story behind her and stepped into another Once Upon a Time.” Unknown

After the blame stops, after we turn our thoughts around and create new circumstances that support who we are and where we are going, then life shifts. The old stories end. New stories begin.

I love the words Once Upon a Time. They signal the beginning of a fresh story. Anything can happen after a once upon a time: adventures in foreign lands, heroic deeds, true love, self discovery, transformation, great deeds.

As the story unfolds, challenges arise to test character and reveal strength. Unexpected allies appear as villains come and go. Light shines in the darkness. Struggles define identify. No story evolves without hardship. But hardships serve to move the story forward and shape the heart, if we allow them to.

Taking the focus off of old circumstances, and creating new circumstances to live in, ushers in another once upon a time. I’m so grateful. I gladly leave old stories behind.

Another Once Upon a Time

Stop Blaming Circumstances

Tonight’s post was inspired by an Instagram story. Beneath a photo of a smiling family, who lives on a renovated bus and travels around the country, was this quote from George Bernard Shaw:

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

Stop Blaming Circumstances

What are Circumstances?

I love the words of George Bernard Shaw. Thinking about them, I looked up the definition of circumstance this evening.

Circumstance – noun – an event or fact that causes, or helps to cause, something to happen, typically something undesirable.

Circumstances are a set of conditions or a series of actions or a turn of events that lead to a particular outcome, usually one we don’t want. At least, that’s the perception.

Blame is a crucial factor here.

This happened as a result of these things.

Blame assigns responsibility for a fault or a wrong to someone or something else. Blaming circumstances becomes apparent when the word because pops up.

I can’t go to college because no one in my family has. (circumstance)

I’m stuck in this job/relationship/poor health because I’m too old/scared/tired to do otherwise. (circumstance)

Stop Blaming Circumstances

Creating New Circumstances

What does it mean to look for the circumstances we want, or create new ones? It means we eliminate the because and all that follows it. We stop casting blame and assigning responsibility to someone or something else.

Circumstances shift when we take responsibility for who we are and our own actions. Perception shifts as well. And then the outcome opens to new possibilities.

Author, speaker and teacher Byron Katie uses a technique that’s helpful here, called the turn-around. The turn-around encourages us to look at new truths by turning our thoughts around.

I can’t go to college because no one in my family has.

Eliminate because and the belief after.

I can’t go to college.

Apply the turn around.

I CAN go to college.

Create new circumstances.

I CAN go to college and I will by applying for grants and scholarships.

Creating a New Life

The young couple in the Instagram photo sold their house, with the hopes of traveling as a family. They didn’t want to rent or buy another house. Their circumstances weren’t ideal for what they wanted to do. However, they created new circumstances. They bought a bus. Turned it into a home on wheels. And now…they travel. They are living their dream.

In my own life, I recently shifted my circumstances too. I moved from a limiting belief to a liberating one:

I can’t walk or do the things I want to do because a car accident damaged my back and legs.

I can’t walk or do the things I want to do.

I CAN walk and do the things I want to do.

I CAN walk and do the things I want to do and I will by looking at my health in a different way and asking for Divine guidance.

I quit blaming the car accident for my poor health. I quit accepting that circumstances were what they were and unchangeable. Taking back responsibility for my own health and asking the Divine for guidance opened possibilities which shifted my beliefs about the cause of my poor health.

You know the rest of my story. I am healed, walking without pain, and I am doing the things I want to do. Shifting the way I viewed circumstances and stopping the blame created a new life for me.

What circumstances are you blaming, for being where you are in life? How can you “get on in this world” and “look for the circumstances you want”? If you could make your own circumstances, what would they look like?

And finally what’s stopping you?

No blame. Accept responsibility. Shift and create. I’ll meet you on the road to a new life.

Stop Blaming Circumstances

Series Review: Castle Rock Season One

Awareness of the Hulu original series, Castle Rock, came to me as a result of a synchronicity thread I’m experiencing. As this year winds down, I’ve already received the word, Enchanted, and the symbol, the Queen chess piece, for 2019. It’s been an incredible experience, receiving confirmation that these are indeed crucial to my journey next year, even if I don’t yet fully understand why.

Riding in my daughter’s car last month, we listened to beautiful music from Max Richter. She shared how the music sounded familiar, when she played it recently, causing her to track down where she had heard it before. Elissa’s search led her to Episode 7, of the series Castle Rock that she had just watched. Her enthusiasm for the series created a desire to watch it as well. And Episode 7, Elissa told me, was titled The Queen! She felt it was the best episode she had ever seen on television. With that title it seemed important for me to view it.

Over the last 10 days, I watched the entire first season of Castle Rock. I’m so glad I did.

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

Castle Rock Season One

Castle Rock is inspired by the characters and stories of Stephen King. The fantasy/drama stars André Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Melanie Lynskey, Sissy Spacek, Terry O’Quinn, Scott Glenn, Caleel Harris, Adam Rothenberg and Chosen Jacobs. The series carries a MA rating, for language, violence and adult themes, and each episode has a run time of about 45 minutes. Currently the series is only available on Hulu.

Castle Rock is a town in Maine, well known in the Stephen King multiverse. It appears to be a small town where lots of bad things happen. Shawshank Prison looms over the town, literally and energetically. An anonymous call from there brings attorney Henry Deaver (Holland) home to meet with a mysterious client, discovered caged beneath the prison.

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

Castle Rock unsettles Henry. The strange man he represents, known only as The Kid (Skarsgård), disturbs him even more. The man was caged by former prison warden Dale Lacy (O’Quinn), who commits suicide, leaving The Kid to be discovered when the new warden arrives.

As Henry attempts to unravel The Kid’s past, he reconnects with his mother, Ruth (Spacek), and her long time companion, former town sheriff Alan Pangborn (Glenn). Henry’s father, the Reverend Matthew Deaver (Rothenberg), died tragically when Henry was a boy. Being home stirs up the past.

Henry has mysterious circumstances in his own life. He was adopted by the Deavers and disappeared for days during a cold Maine winter. Young Henry (Harris) reappeared just as abruptly as he vanished, with no memory of what had happened to him. The father died while his son was gone, and the townspeople believe Henry was responsible for the reverend’s death.

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

Henry’s dark past distracts him as he digs deeper into The Kid’s story. His mother’s fragile memory is cause for concern and Molly (Lynskey), his former childhood friend and neighbor, has grown into a troubled woman with a secret ability. Castle Rock appears to being growing darker and more violent by the day. Time is running out to protect the people he loves and figure out The Kid’s identity.

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

Episode 7 The Queen

Elissa’s praise for this episode was justified. Situated toward the end of the season, this episode is the pinnacle of the story. Ruth is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and throughout the show she has lucid moments and times of confusion.

Ruth’s neurologist describes her symptoms as “confusion with time and space”. Ruth tells her grandson Wendell (Jacobs) that she has been snatched from the predictable path of time, and misled into other days and other years. She relies on a system she created for herself, to help her get back to Now. Her Lewis chess pieces, a gift from Alan, are the breadcrumbs that lead her back.

Ruth, who buried her husband in 1991, can walk into a room and suddenly find herself talking to him, or reading a story to young Henry. But when she travels to these other times and places, finding one of the chess pieces propels her back into the present.

This hauntingly beautiful episode highlights the confusion and fear that one with memory loss must live with. What was once ordinary and routine becomes a jumble of mixed up memories and times. Sissy Spacek portrays Ruth with incredible depth and poignancy. Seeing life in Castle Rock from her perspective gives me great compassion toward those bravely battling all forms of dementia.

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

The Messed Up Town of Castle Rock

I enjoyed this well done series. Although it stands on its own, whether the viewer is familiar with the works of Stephen King or not, the show has delightful and creepy King touches. The residents of Castle Rock continually blame the town itself for the bad things that people do there. I’m still thinking about the implications of this first season. The finale left the end of the story open to interpretation. I have my own ideas and I look forward to discussing Castle Rock with family members who have already watched it.

I am thinking the most about The Queen. The story intrigued me. Was Ruth a time walker or a sad woman lost in muddled up memories? And what deeper message is there for me? My symbol for next year just keeps showing up, and I know these aren’t mere coincidences. The chess pieces throughout the series, that played a key role in this episode, seemed to call to me as well. I’m still sorting it all out.

Series Review Castle Rock Season One

National Vegetarian Month

October is National Vegetarian Month. According to Wikipedia, the purpose is to “bring awareness to the ethical, environmental, health, and humanitarian benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle. World Vegetarian Day initiates the month of October as Vegetarian Awareness Month, which ends with November 1, World Vegan Day, as the end of that month of celebration.”

As I am practicing a 7 Day Raw Food Cleanse this week, I consider it serendipitous that I began the cleanse in the month of October. Although I’ve been plant based for a couple of years, eating raw fruits and veggies this week has raised my awareness of and gratitude for this health lifestyle.

I don’t often offer reasons for why this is a great lifestyle. Instead, I prefer to live my life as an example of one who has benefitted greatly from changing my diet, and answer questions when people ask. In honor of the month, and the week I am experiencing, and truly, in honor of the extraordinary healing I have received, consider the facts below about eating more fruits and veggies.

National Vegetarian Month

Defining Vegetarian

First let’s look at the definitions of three words that are frequently used interchangeably.

Vegetarian – a person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious, or health reasons.

Vegan – a person who does not eat or use any animal products.

Plant Based – a diet based on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, but with few or no animal products.

Vegetarians avoid meat but may use other animal products. Vegans strictly avoid ALL animal products including honey and beeswax, leather, silk, wool and fur, and cosmetics containing animal products or that were tested on animals. Plant based eaters choose whole foods and avoid meat, dairy, eggs and fish but may use honey or wear clothing derived from animals.

The thing all three groups have in common is that they don’t eat meat.

I classify myself as plant based. I do use organic honey, although I probably wouldn’t if producing it killed the bees, but I avoid most other animal based products in all areas of my life.

National Vegetarian Month

Why Eliminate Meat?

From Forks Over Knives:

1. Reduces inflammation in the body, lowering risks of heart attacks, strokes and autoimmune diseases.

2. Lowers cholesterol.

3. Gives the body’s microbiome a makeover, which reduces the risks for obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and liver disease.

4. Positively changes how our genes work, slowing the aging process.

5. Reduces risk of type 2 diabetes. Animal fat, animal-based iron, and nitrate preservatives in meat have been found to damage pancreatic cells, worsen inflammation, cause weight gain, and impair the way our insulin functions.

6. Gives the body the right kind, and right amount, of protein, reducing risk for cancer. The average omnivore in the US gets more than 1.5 times the optimal amount of protein, most of it from animal sources. Excess protein is stored as fat or turned into waste, and animal protein is a major cause of weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, and cancer. On the other hand, the protein found in whole plant foods protects us from many chronic diseases.

7. Makes a huge impact on the health of the planet and its inhabitants. Animal agriculture is destructive to the planet. It is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and is a leading cause of land and water use, deforestation, wildlife destruction, and species extinction. About 2,000 gallons of water are needed to produce just one pound of beef in the US. Oceans are rapidly becoming depleted of fish; by some estimates, oceans may be fishless by 2048. The current food system, based on meat and dairy production, also contributes to world hunger—the majority of crops grown worldwide go toward feeding livestock, not feeding people.

Equally important, animals raised for food are sentient beings who suffer, whether raised in industrial factory farms or in farms labeled “humane.” Eating a plant-based diet helps us lead a more compassionate life. After all, being healthy is not just about the food we eat; it’s also about our consciousness—our awareness of how our choices affect the planet and all of those with whom we share it.

National Vegetarian Month

Celebrating National Vegetarian Month

I get it. Change can be difficult. My switch to plant based was initially to shift my health. As my body healed, I became aware of the other benefits that extended beyond my own health.

Here are ways you can increase your fruit and veggie intake, even if you don’t feel ready to make big changes.

• Create a Meatless Monday and/or a Fresh Food Friday meal each week, experimenting with new foods, prepared in new ways. Plant based doesn’t mean boring salads. Far from it!

• Look up recipes on Pinterest for inspiration. In the search bar type Plant Based Recipes or Vegan Meals.

• Instead of starting the day with a heavy breakfast or sugary cereals, try a fruit smoothie. Combine bananas with fresh or frozen fruit or greens and just enough water to make the smoothie pourable.

• Replace a soda, or two, with herbal teas or a fresh juice. Run your favorite fruits and veggies through a juicer and enjoy.

• Take a plant based cooking class, online or in person, and learn new ways to prepare nutritious meals.

• Plant a garden and benefit from growing your own food.

• Go grocery shopping with a friend and challenge each other to shop from the produce section only. Brainstorm together and come up with meals to create from the abundance there.

National Vegetarian Month

It’s About Life

The best way for me to celebrate National Vegetarian Month, other than taking excellent care of my health and wellbeing, is to make a positive impact on others. An opportunity appeared this afternoon, to discuss the benefits of a plant based lifestyle with a young man working in a grocery store. He studied my shopping cart and then curious, asked me good questions about why I eat the way I do.

How long have you been plant based? Why did you change your diet? Was it difficult? What about the holidays? Do you skip the turkey?

We had a wonderful conversation. His openness allowed me to be open. I wasn’t trying to force him to change. He wasn’t trying to defend his choices or ridicule mine. We simply discussed what it means to be plant based, and the impact animal agriculture is having. And we chatted about health and how crucial food is to keeping our bodies running smoothly, or not.

I appreciated him. And I am grateful for this whole month set aside to increase awareness of what it means, to individuals, to animals, to the planet, to be vegetarian, vegan or plant based.

Giving up sugar, dairy, eggs and meat isn’t a death sentence. It’s a life sentence. Long may we all live, in the greatest possible health.

National Vegetarian Month

You’re Going to Need This Juicer, Honey

As I used my vintage juicer this morning, to create lemon water, a warm fuzzy feeling overcame me. This simple gadget that was commonly found in kitchens in the mid 1900s, is more of a novelty now. There are more modern versions of juicers available.

I love my juicer, however, and I enjoy the homey practice of twisting half a lemon, lime or orange on it, to extract fresh juice. As I considered the source of the warm feeling, I thought of my Aunt Annie, who passed away in March of 2015. This was her juicer.

You’re Going to Need This Juicer Honey

Clear Depression Glass Juicer

I researched vintage glass juicers and quickly located exact matches to the one I own.

Depression glass is clear or colored translucent machine made glassware that was distributed free, or at low cost, in the US and Canada around the time of the Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 until 1939. Much depression glass is actually uranium glass. The Quaker Oats Company, and other food manufacturers and distributors, put a piece of glassware in boxes of food, as an incentive to purchase.

During its years of production more than 20 manufacturers created 100 plus patterns, with entire dinner sets available in some patterns. Common colors were clear, or crystal, pink, pale blue, green, and amber. Less common colors included canary yellow, ultramarine, opaque pale green, opaque pale blue, cobalt blue, ruby red, black, amethyst, monax, and white milk glass.

You’re Going to Need This Juicer Honey

Taking Home a Juicer

Five months after my aunt passed away, my mother, sisters and I met two of my cousins at Aunt Annie’s house. We sorted through memories and items. My cousins graciously allowed us to select keepsakes to take home.

In the basement we opened cardboard boxes and examined items that Aunt Annie had collected over a lifetime. We all chatted and told stories about pieces we recognized. And some items we wondered about. How we wanted to ask my aunt questions.

I was drawn to the juicer as soon as I saw it. I like vintage kitchen gadgets and this one was in perfect condition without chips or cracks. I couldn’t remember ever seeing my aunt use it, but she surely did. I tucked the juicer into my “take home” box, pleased with the find.

You’re Going to Need This Juicer Honey

You’re Going to Need This

This morning, as I made lemon water and thought about my aunt, an image came to mind. I could imagine Annie there with all of us, in spirit, in the basement. She stood among her family, peering into boxes and remembering with us as we pulled items from long sealed cartons. I could hear her soft voice with its southern drawl, exclaiming over old treasures. She smiled as we told stories and added to them, even though we could not consciously hear her.

When I picked up the old glass juicer, I now wonder if my sweet aunt whispered into my ear, “You’re going to need this juicer, honey. Take it home.” In 2015 I had not yet taken charge of my health. That shift would not occur for another 11 months. We operate in linear time. Spirit does not.

Is it possible that my aunt knew that a time was coming when I would not only cherish this juicer but use it every day? Could she have foreseen how important creating fresh juice would become to me, months before I switched to a plant based lifestyle? I like to think so!

This little depression glass juicer, that perhaps came to my aunt via a box of oats, helps me maintain my good health. I am grateful that in the flow of life, that sometimes operates outside the flow of time, what I need comes to me at the perfect moment.

And that warm fuzzy feeling I experienced this morning? Maybe that was Aunt Annie, giving me a hug.

You’re Going to Need This Juicer Honey

Series Review: Doctor Who Season 11

The new season of Doctor Who premiered today. For the first time in the show’s long history, a woman, actress Jodie Whittaker, assumed the role of The Doctor.

I have eagerly anticipated the return of Doctor Who AND this momentous episode when New Who is made even more…new.

Series Review Doctor Who Season 11

Doctor Who?

As a recap, Doctor Who chronicles the adventures of a time traveling alien who routinely saves the universe. He is particularly fond of Earth and his traveling companions are typically humans. The Doctor, whose name is never revealed, explores time and space in a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) that appears as a blue police box. Looks are deceiving though. This box is a spaceship that is much bigger on the inside.

Peter Capaldi recently stepped down as the 12th Doctor in the rebooted series known as New Who. However this alien with two hearts doesn’t die. He regenerates when he’s near the end of life, assuming a new body and personality while retaining memories. Thus various actors have portrayed the Doctor and continued the series over decades. With Capaldi’s exit, it was time for Doctor number 13.

Series Review Doctor Who Season 11

New Who Has a New Gender

Season 11 opened today with “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”. Episode 1 starred Jodie Whittaker, Sharon D. Clarke, Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill and Bradley Walsh. Jamie Childs directed the debut by new show runner Chris Chibnall.

Doctor Who airs on Sunday evenings on BBC America, at 8:00 PM Central Standard Time.

In South Yorkshire, mysterious things are occurring. Ryan Sinclair (Cole) discovers a peculiar vessel in the woods. Police officer Yaz Khan (Gill), who responds to his call, happens to be an old school friend. As the two examine the strange craft, Ryan receives a frantic call from his grandmother, Grace (Clarke).

A menacing intruder has boarded the train that Grace and her husband Graham (Walsh) were journeying home in. Locked into the train car, injury or death seems certain…until a woman falls through the ceiling, landing in front of them. Unsure of her name, and dressed in a man’s rumpled suit, the woman (Whittaker) nonetheless quickly takes charge of the situation.

Yaz and Ryan arrive at the stalled train. And an unexpected adventure unfolds that involves not one but two aliens, a newly formed group of allies and a woman who fights to save others while desperately attempting to remember exactly who she is.

Series Review Doctor Who Season 11

The Woman Who Fell to Earth

I watched episode 1 three times today. Rather than reveal much about the story, I’d rather share a few thoughts about this new era in Who and encourage readers to become viewers.

First, well done Chris Chibnall, cast and crew on creating an engaging story as Doctor Who heads in fresh new directions. I enjoyed the cinematic look and feel of this episode. Chris sets the stage for future episodes that will focus a great deal on the human companions who accompany The Doctor. They have interesting stories of their own, these three companions, and the development of their characters is something to look forward to.

Jodie stepped into the role of Doctor and quickly made it hers. Regeneration episodes are always a bit tricky. A beloved actor has just left. A new person assumes the role. It usually takes me several episodes to get in sync with the new Doctor. I caught glimpses of Calpadi’s Doctor in the words and mannerisms of this fresh personality, and that eased the transition for me.

Series Review Doctor Who Season 11

My Doctor Who

Jodie became my Doctor today. Confused initially about who she is, she asks Yaz why she keeps calling her “madam”. When Yaz shares it’s because she’s a woman, The Doctor whirls around and asks, earnestly, “Does it suit me?”

She didn’t asked if it suited the others or if it was okay if she was female. I loved that distinction. It was brilliant.

Jodie was brilliant. By the end of episode one I had embraced the change. I await further episodes and look forward to getting to know all of these new characters. What a great group of companions The Doctor has.

My favorite quote of the night was spoken by The Doctor, as she created her own sonic screwdriver:

“There’s this moment when you are sure you are about to die and then…you are born. It’s terrifying. There are echoes of who I was and this call toward who I am, and I have to hold my nerve and trust all these new instincts and shape myself towards them.”

What a tremendous place to exist in. We can grow into the person we are becoming, without losing who we are. Echoes and a call. Trust.

It’s going to be an amazing season.

Series Review Doctor Who Season 11