Embracing Wisdom

Life, food, wellness and love


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Integrity

Someone said to me once that I am all about integrity.  At first I was not sure what he meant, but as I began to look at my choices and actions I realized that this is a thread that is deeply woven into who I am.  I am not one to lie or be dishonest even in those little white-lie situations that will not harm anything or anyone.  When I say I am going to do something, I do it, which can sometimes make myself and those in my life crazy.

Keeping my word is the foundation of integrity. Integrity is defined as the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness; the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished. 

Three reasons integrity should be a value in yourself that you cultivate:
1. Honor

For me, doing what I say I will do is a matter of honor. I wouldn’t feel good about myself if I didn’t keep my word. It would not support my intention for integrity. My word means something to me — I do not take it lightly and I expect the same from those in my life.  Perhaps I hold this standard too high at times and learning to trust others is part of my own path to honor. Do you easily say you will do something and then fail to follow through?  Do you allow others in your life to not keep their word?

2. Trust and Reliability

Demonstrating integrity builds trust and reliability. Without these values the relationship will struggle to be deeply rooted and flourish.  Continually being let down by others who do not keep their word leads to feelings that they are not reliable which leads to doubt and for me, ultimately where sadness enters. When there is doubt in a person or relationship the uphill battle to nurture the relationship can be exhausting. Friendships and deeply connected relationships thrive on trust.  How do you build trust in your relationships?

3. Respect

Do you respect for people who do not keep their word or who live without the value of integrity?  I end up feeling skeptical when someone says they are going to do something and who repeatedly show that they do not follow through. I try to give them grace and understanding but over time the reasons become excuses. Giving the benefit of the doubt helps in the beginning but over time their actions will be their truth. In return, if you want to feel respected by others, then you need to say yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no, and not allow your fear of rejection or your fear of being controlled to get in the way.  If you want to live with integrity then you must seek out friends and a partner who will honor this value and give you what you need. Do you give and receive respect?


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Truths

Volunteering in hospice has opened me up to so many truths that have been tucked away in me for probably my lifetime.  Each time I go in for my shift I leave a more grounded and whole being.  I know for sure that the gifts I receive from my time with those who are dying are worth every second of fear and uncertainty.

  1.  Intimacy. I have witnessed the most beautiful moments of intimacy.  The tenderness and quietness shared between people during this process is remarkable.  I have been privilege to be in the room during intense moments have cracked me open.  Watching as the spouse rests his head on her pillow, the tender reassurance  a daughter gives her father and the simple hand-holding between partners.  I have learned how special moments of intimacy can be.
  2. Noise. Some families choose to have the television on for their loved ones during this process.  Perhaps this is their own way of distracting themselves and coping, or maybe it is just a habit to have noise on. The gift in observing this is that I know that when I die, I do not want the noise of news or television to be my last few days. I want to hear my beloved speak to me, listen to the voices of my children and simply hear my breath.
  3. Embrace. I have seen people in the dying process struggling with the reconciliation between mind and body.  It is an often long and grueling process of letting go and embracing the comfort of what may be next.  I want to make sure that I have created peace with myself and others each and every day because we never know when we may be having to reconcile.  I want to know that I have left no unfinished business every day and embrace my life, including my death.
  4. Identity. Watching people through this process it is evident that although memories and life experiences are part of who we are, at the moments of death it all really does not matter.  All of the awards and accolades go away. All of the labels and titles fade.  What is left is the peeled away and raw soul.  No longer is it important what identity we have given ourselves or have been given by others.  We simply are.  I want to live each day without labels or definitions.  I just want to be.
  5. Love. Give love.  Receive love.  Be love. Seeing the young people and lives yet to be fully lived, I know for sure I want to live my life in way where love is embodies my actions, my thoughts and my words.  I want to love myself and others in a way as if today was my last day.  Life is a precious and incredibly short experience that is often so wasted on petty arguments and judgements.  Just love.


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Kitchari

Let’s face it being a red-head has some great qualities: unique coloring (only 2% of the world population has red hair),  we well-known for a spunky temper and we have an awesome sense of humor due to years of being teased.  Believe me, I have heard them all. The not so great qualities of being a red-head: well, that very same temper plays both sides of the coin and I pity the person dealing with the not-so-spunky side, red-heads have a much lower pain tolerance and even bleed more than non-gingers, and seasonal changes especially from summer to fall is incredibly difficult. The hot PITTA dosha that most red-heads are can be exasperated this time of year. With that said, it is a great time to consider a Ayurvedic porridge made from rice and mung beans. This amazing stuff is wonderfully seasoned with ginger, cilantro, cardamom and clove. Kitchari is considered is used to purify (and cool down) digestion and cleanse systemic toxins from the body.

I typically do this process in the spring and most certainly in the fall.  I try to make the day or few days to be quiet ones where my focus is to love my body.  I practice Yoga, meditate, take short walks in nature and drink plenty of water.  This year I chose to do a one day Kitchari cleanse the day following a huge hike up a 14,000 foot mountain.  My body was tired and empty from the exertion and I felt this would be a great way to move gracefully into the fall season.

Kitchari reminds me of a  creamy rice cereal and a light dal, or lentil soup. Great for warming the body on a cold day, but even greater the cozy feeling is the rest it offers your digestive system.  This blend of rice, legumes and spices provides all the needed nutrients one needs while resting the system and also provides the body needed energy. Ideally eating Kitchari for three days is ideal but a once or twice a month day is a great maintenance practice.  The morning of the “cleanse” I avoid caffeine and I enjoy unsweetened steel-cut oats with butter or ghee.  The process of making Kitcahri can be meditative if you are open to seeing the process as one of health and vitality.

KITCHARI

  • one cup yellow split mung beans (can sub red lentils if unable to find)
  • one tablespoon chopped ginger
  • two tablespoons shredded coconut
  • handful of fresh cilantro
  • one teaspoon cinnamon
  • one-quarter teaspoon each of cardamom, pepper, clove powder, turmeric, salt
  • three bay leaves
  • three tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter
  • one cup basmati rice
  • six cups water

1. First, rinse split yellow mung beans and soak for several hours. Set aside.

2. In a blender, liquefy one ginger, shredded coconut and chopped cilantro with one-half cup of water.

3. In a large saucepan, lightly brown spices and three bay leaves (remove before serving) in three tablespoons of ghee, or butter.

4. Drain the mung beans and then stir them into the spice mixture in the saucepan.

5. Next, add raw basmati rice. Stir in the blended spice and coconut mixture, followed by six cups of water.

6. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook on low heat for approximately 25 to 30 minutes until soft.


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Disorder to Contentment

A childhood where the state of fear, anticipating reaction from others and a consistent undercurrent of stress was my reality. My earliest memories involve being on edge; wondering what others thought, fearing the verbal explosion of divorced parents, worrying about being good enough and sensing the financially woes of my single mother.

As an adult I am looking at how easily I find myself with an overbooked schooled, continually looking at my budget, rushing from one job to the next and rarely sitting still. Is it possible that I became addicted to the adrenaline rush that living in the constant state of flight or fight causes?

When I look at my adult life and the patterns that I am so easily drawn back into, it is easy to conclude that it is very likely that I am in fact addicted to the feeling of unease.  The hormone that is produced when stress is present gives that rush of explosive energy that says GO. Recognizing this recently I realized that when my life becomes settled, I become uncomfortable.  When my life is chaotic, I am in my groove but my body, mind and spirit eventually suffer.

Catching myself feeding on adrenaline, here is my game plan for easing into a life of contentment:

  1. Meditate before my feet hit the floor.  I tend to jump out of bed with a burst of energy and do not stop until I crawl into bed 14 hours later.  Although I do meditate every day, it is often rushed through to get onto the next thing on my list.  By rolling over and taking that first really intentional breath, I am able to slip into an easy and open meditation before my mind has a chance to get busy. I set my intention of ease and balance for the day and I spend time with spirit and gratitude.
  2. Review my calendar. Five minutes looking at my day and setting a game plan for the day.  Knowing what is ahead is much calmer than getting the abrasive alerts on my phone, then reacting with a surprise that then causes a flurry of activity, which leads to more adrenaline and more chaos.
  3. Say no more often. Whether it is the extra trip to the grocery store for the unnecessary items or getting distracted on the internet.  It is imperative that I say no to the things that cause me to be late, rushed or stressed.  I tend to squeeze as many tasks as I can into the least amount of time. The result is I am often late and that feeling feeds the flurry of chaos.
  4. Practice, practice, and practice. Yoga is key for my mind, body and spirit to stay aligned.  Five minutes on my mat will alter most states of disorder. I have my mat rolled out and waiting most days, and I am learning to consistently go there for solace and to get grounded.
  5. Breathe.  Simple right?  Pause and breathe.  Often times just taking three really good breaths I am able to take the internal state of pandemonium and create a calm and serene feeling.  Watching the breath come in and watching the breath go out.  Affirming with each breath that all is well.

Check in with yourself and explore the possibility that your current lifestyle and pattern of chaos may be rooted in the addiction of adrenaline.  Look for ways that you can move away from the craving of disorder and into a dependence on contentment.


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Portrait of Connection

I recently was asked to participate in a portrait project that looked to capture 365 personalities over the course of one year.  My criteria in order for me to participate: I wanted to in nature and I wanted to capture my presence of Oneness.  It was important to me to attempt to capture my connection to the greatness of the Universe and the totality of life.  Take a peek and see if the camera picked up on that.

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Gratitude 

Practicing daily gratitude has been part of my life for 9 years. This gift has shifted my state of being from a victim to seeker.  Find gratitude daily and your life will change dramatically–fasten your seat belt because it’s the ride of your life.