Embracing Wisdom

Life, food, wellness and love


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Labyrinth

It has been over a year since I have blogged on this site (I have a more personal blog that has gotten more attention recently) and as I read through my last post dated May 2016, I realized again just how fast a year goes, and how much living can happen in a year!

Much like a labyrinth, my year has taken me in and out, and in and out.  I had another hip surgery late last year, and yet another one scheduled for early September.  During this year long walk through the twists and turns of life, I have leaned into and against the many parts of the path.

Despite all the turns, I have remained centered and for the most part calm.  I have walked with a different pace to my life and have learned to appreciate so much more the little gifts of life.  I am more aware, more mindful and with that, more intense at times.

I hope to be back on this blog offering some goodness and I would love to hear from you all about your own walks this past year! When we grow together some of life’s biggest mysteries are easier understood!

Peace and Blessings!

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(photo taken at Adobe Inn and Pines in Taos New Mexico)

 

 

 

 


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Leaving it on the mat

Sometimes the only solace available is that beloved rectangle.

How many times have you cried on your mat?  Laughed out loud? Experienced frustration?  Almost like a good friend or a therapist, my yoga mat has seen me through a vast array of emotions and situations— heartache, loss, death, happiness, contentment and love.

Following a recently emotional day, I spent as much time as I needed to work through the pain on the yoga mat.  Round after round of Sun Salutations.   As my hands felt the mat, I felt like I was in the comfort of an old and dear friend–the kind of friend who doesn’t judge, but instead just offers an open heart. I moved, I breathed, I repeated a mantra, I stopped to cry, and finally, I found peace.

One round after another I continued until I finally dropped to my knees and wept.  Grateful for my old friend.

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My Brew

I have been drinking Kombucha for years and enjoying the vinegary goodness and its benefit to my body. Kombucha is an ancient elixir that has a history of starting in China.  It is a sort of “tea” that is infused by fermentation with beneficial bacteria, probiotics, and yeast and is great for your gut and overall health. It is made from either using black or green tea, some sugar (which the yeast feeds on), and lots of patience. What I thought would be an extraordinary effort to brew my own has actually turned into the easiest and most exciting project of late. I love watching the process of fermentation and I can even be found talking to the jar of goodness as it does it magic.

The SCOBY (“symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”) looks like a serious science experiment of squishy goodness. This very alive ‘thing’ is what creates the goodness of the tea. The process is super fun and saving $3.00 a bottle is awesome!

Here is how I make it:

1. Two quarts of boiling water and 6-8 organic oolong tea in a large pot for 10 minutes, then stir in one cup of white sugar (the bacteria feeds on the sugar—you must add it).

2. Once the tea is cooled, remove the tea bags and pour into a two gallon GLASS jar (I bought a giant jar of pickles at Costco, dumped the pickles and saved the jar).  Add 2 more quarts of water and your SCOBY with about one cup of the liquid that the SCOBY came in. Cover the jar with a coffee filter and rubber band so it can breathe.

3. Wait and watch,  About 7-10 days.  Listen to the murmurs of the magic happening. 🙂

Step Four: With clean hands, remove the SCOBY and about one cup of the tea, set aside.  Pour the brew into glass jars, used kombucha bottles, or glass bottle.  This is where you add flavoring.  My current favorite is sliced ginger and lemon juice.  I have also added a small amount of pomegranate juice.  Leave about one inch from top of bottle and tightly close.

4. You can refrigerate them at this point, or do a second fermentation that creates more bubbles and a bit more pungent flavor.  I have done second fermentations and also drank after one depending on my level of patience.

5.  Start over with step one for your second batch that will work its magic for the 7-10 days.

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Managing Emotions

During times of change it can be extremely challenging to maintain an even keel when it comes to emotions.  Sometimes the change of season can bring up some hidden sorrows or internal commotion. There are thousands of suggestions for managing the changes and the subsequent onslaught of emotions that can come.  Here is a list of my tried and true remedies for those times:

1. Write down your feelings.  Buy yourself a small journal or notebook and spend some time each day writing down what you are feeling.  Often I hear people say that they want to journal but do not know what to put down on paper.  Start with some self-guided questions–what am I resisting in my life today, what are my fears, what brings me joy, or what am I thankful for today? After a few days or weeks it is useful to go back and read what you were feeling and see that even feelings change. That is a good thing.

2. Take a walk. Just get up and move.  A brisk 20-minute walk can do wonders for feelings of sluggishness and sadness.  Getting the blood moving and the fresh air can invigorate your body while clearing out any cobwebs in the mind.  As you walk, take the time to notice the beginnings of nature’s changes and all her glory.  Notice how she easily opens up to the new season through the buddings of leaves and flowers.  Learn from this wise teacher.

3. More than just a good smell. Of our five primary senses, the olfactory is the only one that transmits information directly from the nose into the limbic center of the brain, the seat of emotions and memory. Recent brain scan research has shown that different scents affect brainwave production; for example, with some increasing alpha (relaxation) waves and others affecting beta (alertness) waves. Lavender and lemon both effect serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23524167http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16780969. Depending on my current mood, I choose essential oils as a quick way to alter either sluggishness (peppermint or any citrus oil) or anxiety and restlessness (lavender or any tree/root oil). Shop for oils or open a wholesale account here: http://mydoterra.com/staciewyatt

4. Unroll your mat.  If you do not own a yoga mat, no biggie.  Just find a space and bend your body.  Stretch your limbs and BREATHE.  No need to worry about the “right” poses, your body knows exactly what it needs and when you listen, you will know how to bend and how to stretch.  Learning to trust your intuition and offer your body what it needs is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

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Clean Eating Granola

One of the foods that I miss the most since eating grain free is cereal or granola.  There is something about the crunchy goodness in a bowl of cold coconut or almond milk that my mouth yearns for.  Here is my take on a grain free, sugar-free granola:

2 cups cashews

1 cup almonds (or split half and half with walnuts)

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 sunflower seeds

1 cup shaved unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries (optional)

10 pitted dates

3/4 cup coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor pulse all of the nuts and shaved coconut until its the rough size of granola, pour into a large bowl and add sunflower seeds ( I also like to add a small handful of shaved coconut for extra texture). Meanwhile, pour boiling water over the dates and soak for ten minutes.  Once soaked, add the dates (and water) to the food processor and process into a liquid.  Add in the melted coconut oil, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Pour liquid mixture onto nut mixture and stir to combine.  Spread nut mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.  Bake in the oven approximately 35-40 minutes until toasty and brown.  Allow to harden and cool in pan.  Break into pieces when cool and add the dried cranberries if you are opting to include them.  Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy this with coconut or almond milk….. or by the handful.

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Creating a Morning Ritual

Creating a morning ritual can be as detailed as your personality prefers to the simplicity of adding one thing to your already existing routine.  For example, if you are one who loves a challenge or thrives on being accountable then creating a morning ritual can be an experience that fuels your fire.  On the other hand, if adding one more task seemed insurmountable then consider tacking on a simple daily mantra to your post-teeth brushing regime.

Why do we need a daily ritual?

1. Rituals grounds us.  Being creatures of habit and rhythm it nourishing our souls to have consistent and almost automatic routines or habits that require minimal thinking. By having a set list of patterns that we address each day we are more inclined to feel less disconnected and more in tune to our start of day.  For some of us it is coffee and the morning news and for others it is a workout or time to reflect.  Whatever your choice is, know that rituals truly do tether you and they help to create a grounded sense of self which in turn helps us be more productive and happy individual.

2. Rituals help us to overcome some of those not-so-mindful hangups that keep us stuck. Consider this scenario: waking up 30 minutes earlier than usual to set aside time to make a healthy lunch, eat a protein packed breakfast and meditate.  This looks way different from rushing out the door grabbing a Pop Tart from the kids uneaten breakfast, hoping that you have a granola bar in your desk and haggling with your family to move faster. One misstep leads to another and the result is often an underfed and overly emotional person. Find what kind of things would nurture you and create a sacred time to do it.  If eating better is something you want to achieve, then your ritual might be prepping the days food.  If being more mindful is your goal then meditation should be as important as brushing your teeth.

3. Rituals help us see that we can overcome challenges. There is nothing quite like the empowerment that comes when you realize that you can.  By allowing yourself the space to work on what you desire and carving out the time each and every day to make those things happen, it is likely that you will see and feel success.  There is nothing like making a choice and then in a short time seeing how easy it really is.

Some ideas for rituals include:

  • meditation
  • journaling
  • affirmations
  • walking
  • prepping your food for the day
  • reviewing your calendar
  • reading a meaningful passage
  • connecting with your partner and/or kids
  • completing the daily crossword
  • steeping tea or brewing coffee
  • prayer
  • a simple yoga practice


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Coffee or Tea?

A visit to the doctor last week brought up the familiar conversation about coffee. Not coffee itself but the fact I was drinking too much. Although my diet is clean, and even cleaner since eliminating sugar and wine, giving up coffee seemed insurmountable. I practically have to close my eyes when I add in my *gasp* artificial sweetener to my third cup of the morning. The horror of the knowing of artificial sweetener.

Determined to not be at the mercy of a silly little bean, I left the doctor with a sense of challenge. Bring it on. Coffee versus me.

The recent days I have gone from four to five cups of coffee to one. It’s a glorious one cup nonetheless.

What has helped me overcome this has been the return to mindfulness. Whether it is hot water, herbal tea, or my newest fave, rich black tea the choice is available. Still caffeinated I know, but better. In addition to reducing coffee I am reducing, and almost eliminating sweetener.

I love what this has done for my morning; the act of choosing a tea, prepping the steeper or unwrapping the bag, then waiting. All slow and all mindful versus the slosh of pouring the coffee as fast as I can into my oversized mug. There is something special and calming about waiting 3-5 minutes for the tea to become perfect.

The week of reducing coffee has brought a surprising newness to my morning. Maybe it’s the ritual or maybe it’s the challenge. Either way I am on it and I’m already feeling much lighter and much cleaner.

What about you? Coffee or tea?