Sunday, March 24, 2013

When All Else Fails, Throw Your Boot!

While at a recent wine tasting, my new friend Jody plunked herself down and began to share the story of her frustrating day. She made an appointment with a new doctor over a month ago. She drove the 35 miles to her appointment only to find they would not accept her medical insurance⎯even though they had taken the insurance information at the time the appointment was made. Frustrated, she asked if she could just pay for the appointment as an out of network patient⎯again, no. She asked if she could simply pay for it herself⎯no, cash⎯no, no, no! At this point she left the doctor's office and happened to run into someone she knew. She relayed the story to her friend. He was running an errand at a retail cell service store so she tagged along. While he was completing his transaction, he was told they would not take cash! Both Jody and her friend just looked at each other. That was too much for Jody. She bent over, grabbed one of the boots she was wearing, pulled it off and proceeded to throw the boot at the huddle of store employees.

I’m sure you can understand Jody’s maddening day. She wasn’t even sure why she did it. It’s not like she goes around throwing footwear at people, but at that moment it seemed like the thing to do. She wasn’t aiming at anyone and fortunately did not hit anyone. After throwing her boot, she calmly walked over, picked it up and left the store.

Was it the right thing to do? It certainly made for good story telling, and undoubtedly punctuated the moment for Jody and anyone else in the store. But here’s the thing, she needed to do something then and there for her own sanity. I liken her story to throwing down the gauntlet, but instead of an armored glove of the days of yore, she issued a challenge by throwing down her boot. Nobody accepted the challenge, but it definitely destabilized her emotional mindset then and there.

It's fun just considering this expressive outburst, and I will undoubtedly think of Jody’s boot flying through the air when attempting to hold onto my sanity. Just thinking about it will certainly destabilize any moments of frustration I may have, but I’ll make sure I follow that thought up with a few deep breaths and a quick nod of thanks to Jody and wine tasting. Cheers!
Frustrated Shannon photo courtesy of Shannon Kringen

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Looking Both Ways

A few months ago, a man driving a truck ran into my husband, Dennis, as he walked across a busy intersection. He was in a crosswalk, walking at the appropriate time, when a driver turning left failed to yield the right-of-way. Dennis was hit on the side of his right knee, flew up onto the hood of the truck and slammed his right hand into the hood; the driver of the truck hit the brakes and Dennis slid back off the hood landing on his feet. Other than being a bit shook-up, Dennis was fine. His right hand ached a bit, but there was nothing broken and no bruising. Amazing⎯yes, miracle⎯definitely!

Did Dennis look both ways as he entered the intersection? Did the driver? Life moves at a rapid pace. In a split-second everything can change. We are all so busy all of the timewe lose focus and don’t pay attention to the world around us anymore. We get so used to doing whatever it is, we no longer can remember if we even thought of looking both ways. We need to quit paying attention to everything else and focus on what it is we are doing right NOW. A focused life is a much better way to live.
  • It puts emphasis on every minute of every day
  • It makes whatever you are doing a priority
  • It centers you
It really isn’t hard to do, and is somewhat a relief from the rapid pace we get sucked into. When you are centered⎯you feel less rushed. When you feel less rushed⎯you pay more attention. The fact my Dennis was able to walk away from something that could have had dire consequences is nothing less than a miracle. But it reminds me, and should remind everyone, to simply slow down and always look both ways. Pay attention to the world around you. Commit to living a more focused life. Become your best self and focus on NOW. Looking both ways could be your new metaphor to a more centered life. Think on that⎯you may save a life, and who knows, it may just be your own.
Look Both Ways photo courtesy of J. Mazzola

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Breaking Ground

My daffodils broke ground weeks ago, and seemed to be inching slowly upward, until last week when they shot up four inches! Yes, spring moved in last week like it was making up for lost time⎯with tree frogs croaking up a storm, the neighbor’s peacock informing everyone that mating season has arrived and the return of the migrating birds singing their praises each morning.

With a few days of sunshine, temperatures “soaring” into the fifties, and sixteen hours lovingly tending the gardens around my home, I should have a serious case of spring fever. It hasn’t even come close to hitting me yet. Even though the frogs, peacocks and various migrating birds would beg to differ.

With all the rain we have had, I have not gotten a chance to do my normal fall and winter gardening. So, last week I made gardening the priority and began the annual chores with fall and winter catch-up work, then moved onto spring-cleaning in an attempt to get ahead⎯maybe, just maybe. I enjoyed breathing the fresh-cut grass smells, and getting up-close and personal with my flowerbeds once again. I indeed have broken ground by following the frenetic rhythm of spring⎯as evidenced by the soil stains on my jeans. But with this burst of garden exuberance, there seemed to be more back breaking than ground breaking!

I don’t usually try and take on everything at once, but with the forecast showing another wet week ahead, it is in my best interest to do what I can in the garden now. I hadn't planned on breaking ground quite so hard this week, but like the daffodils shooting upward, I shot forward in my garden.  If we can just string a few more killer days of sunshine together, I know spring fever will hit me⎯it always does. And, maybe, just maybe I won’t have to continue breaking my back by squeezing so much garden exuberance in all at once. Instead, I can break ground at a more reasonable pace as spring officially rolls forward in the weeks ahead.
Always Works photo courtesy of cogdogblog

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Eating to Live: Avocados, Coconut and Flaxseed

It has been nearly a year since I last reported on my never-ending food journey. With science, being what it is today, there are many reports of eat this, not that; only to find, years later, you should eat that, not this! What’s a person to do? I, for one, am trying to eat as healthy as I can on a regular basis while still enjoying those things that are not actually considered healthy on a not so regular basis⎯white chocolate chip, macadamia nut cookies anyone?

Without going into an exhaustive explanation about saturated and unsaturated fats, and the average American diet consisting of an overabundance of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids, and that this imbalance contributes to inflammation in our bodies, you just might be interested in the following: 

I have always loved avocados, but considered them to be a high caloric food, so imagine my surprise when I found they had gotten a bad rap. Yes, high in calories, but mostly heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and avocados are considered a nutrient-dense food! Knowing this, I eat avocados on a regular basis now, and because I only ate them occasionally in the past, I have some catching up to do.

I’ve heard about the wonders of coconut oil for many years, but once again was looking at its high caloric content and stayed away from it. It wasn’t until the last few years, when coconut products seemed to be popping up everywhere, that I started to investigate coconut oil more thoroughly. Let’s just suffice it to say, I am successfully using coconut oil, when baking, in place of butter or shortening in recipes. While it is still a saturated fat like butter and shortening, it has a low Omega-6 content, and antioxidant properties that help fight inflammation. Does this mean I should be eating more Mounds bars?

Note: Coconut oil is a solid with the consistency of a firm vegetable shortening. We have been taught, over the years, that all fat solids are considered saturated and therefore bad for us. Science may be proving that some saturated fats are actually good for us, as may be the case with coconut.

When I tried a gluten free diet a few years ago, I came to know and love ground flaxseed. I sprinkle it on many foods and eat it by the spoonful. Since I do not eat a lot of fish and am probably low on my Omega-3’s, eating ground flaxseed not only adds more fiber to my diet, but also adds the necessary Omega-3’s. The flavor is surprisingly nutty and you will find it is a great fiber addition to smoothies along with the noted coconut oil and avocado above.

I rather enjoy this never-ending food journey of mine. It helps me explore foods and improves on a healthy approach to living. This in turn helps to move me forward in a positive direction. But, don’t be so shocked the next time you see me eating a basket of fish and chips, something I love. I just make sure I don’t enjoy this basket of goodness often. Also, it has to be the very best, not just any old basket of fish and chips. Oh, and the best⎯panko breaded.
Laughing photo courtesy of nosha.