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The Little Things

Once I get to work, my morning routine is to steep a cup of hot tea after my morning meeting.  I do this Monday through Friday without a second thought.  Knowing my love of tea, a co-worker sent me this really cool tea that has a thread-wrapped wire extending from a pyramid-shaped tea bag.  The shape of the tea bag keeps the tea from slipping to the bottom, and the wire allows you to easily pull the tea bag out of the water once it’s done steeping without burning your fingers!  On top of that, the wire has a little leaf at the end of it that bobs up and down and looks really cute.

I’m not writing to promote this tea, but to share with you my experience of happiness by this simple innovation.  On top of the great tea bag, I am drinking my tea out of my favorite mug, given to me from Ms. Sarah Oliver herself – reminding me that Life is GOOD!  And it really is.

Amidst the monotony of my routine, the simplicity of this tea bag and cup reminds me to appreciate the small things in my life.  It is truly the little things that have the ability to shift us.  In my experience, it’s not the big things that sustain happiness, (the purchase of furniture, clothes, going on a vacation,) although all of these big things I’ve mentioned are really nice, the excitement we feel for them wears off, (and our bank accounts feel the pain.)  On the other hand, taking a moment to find and appreciate the small things in your day can transform your day, daily!

I am personally so thankful for this sweet tea and cup from a wonderful friend.  What small things in your life lift your heart and bring a smile to your face?  Take some time to find something each day, and I promise, moments in your day will grow to be happier.

Murphy’s Law held true again.  One week after I posted Cold Buster – 5 ways to avoid getting a Cold or the Flu in the first place, I came down with the flu!  Of course I wasn’t thrilled with feeling terrible, and being confronted with the reality that I CAN get sick.  But the truth is, I am so thankful I got sick.

Here is what the Flu taught me:

1) MOST things I think are important and MUST get done, are really not  that important.  It can wait.  The laundry doesn’t all need to be foldedthank you and put away every time.  What I wear is not a total reflection of who I am.  The world will not stop spinning if I don’t finish something at work.

2) Although I may blame others for putting pressure on me to do certain things, they are not to blame.  I am.  I put this pressure on myself.  Being everywhere for everyone wears me thin, batty, and tired.  This is no good for anyone.  Sometimes you just have to kindly say no to yourself, or to someone else.  Do what you can, and let the rest go.

3) Complaining about others or situations will not make anything better.  I had no energy to complain, and it was liberating.  Just because others don’t do something exactly as you would have it done, doesn’t mean they are wrong.  And even if they are wrong on some level, complaining about someone else only puts strain on your own body, and wastes your time.

4) Moving mindfully, completing one task at a time, is blissful.  We may have a zillion tasks to complete, and we may get them all done, and may not.  Our real choice is, how will the day end?  Will we be stressed, exhausted and wound up?  Or relaxed and fulfilled with satisfaction of what we were able to finish?  Of course we want the latter!  To achieve this, fully focus your complete attention on each task you are completing. Resist the temptation to allow your mind to split and concern yourself with what you cannot do this instant.  When I had the flu, I only had the energy to focus on one item at a time – what a treat!

5) Being able to breathe through your nose is heaven.  Finally – there is nothing better than when you start to feel better after being sick.  You appreciate every breath, the fact that you can think clearly without a headache is reason to smile, and getting back to your mat, to your asana practice, or any form of exercise, becomes an act of thankful worship.

Inhale, Life IS Good.

Being in the health and wellness field, I am often asked how it is that I don’t seem to get sick.  Here are a few simple things you can do to avoid getting the flu or a cold in the first place, without chemicals and major expense.

1) Reduce Stress – Stress activates our sympathetic nervous system, our flight or fight response.  This response increases the hormone adrenaline, which then increases our heart rate and blood flow.  Back in the day, we developed this response in order to increase our chances Meditationof survival when chasing down food, or running from becoming food.  The body focuses on protecting all vital organs and functions when under stress, and all non-vital functions go by the wayside.  Examples of non-vital functions are our immune system, reproductive system, etc.

As a result, if we want to stay healthy, we need to find ways to reduce stress…like practicing yoga, getting more sleep, and meditation. 🙂  Most days, I meditate for at least 5 minutes per day, and usually in the morning before I’ve begun my day.  If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate.  Meditation is just focusing on one thing…instead of worry, focus on your breath, your gratitude for something in your life, or your intention for a good day – these are just a few examples.  Check out this Stanford study on stress:  http://killerstress.stanford.edu/

2) Neti Pot 1 -2x per day when you’re not feeling well, use all of the time if you suffer from allergies.  If you don’t know what this is, go to Walgreens or CVS and ask the pharmacist to show you where it is in the store.  Click on the link to learn more about this simple and easy remedy.  This is so effective and simple, everyone should have one in their home!

3) Green Tea – I try to drink as much green tea as I possibly can.  Green Tea is rich with antioxidants in the form of Catechins.  One of the teabagmany benefits of Catechins is that it helps boost the immune system.  Green Tea also has an element that increases the good bacteria in your intestines and stomach, helping you combat future colds.  (I do want to add that it’s been proven that adding milk to your tea changes the chemical composition of the tea and reduces its benefits.)  Read more on the many benefits of Tea:  Dr. Pratt on Tea

4) Avoid Antibiotics, Z pack, etc – I try to stay clear of antibiotics for the common cold or flu. By definition, antibiotics are anything that destroy bacteria or inhibit their growth.  Sounds great, except that this means the antibiotics will kill ALL the bacteria in your body.  Unfortunately, it can’t tell the difference between the good stuff and the bad stuff, and the good stuff residing in our intestines and stomach lining actually help to prevent us from getting colds.  Once you’re on the antibiotic wagon, it’s tough to get off.  Keep the good bacteria up, keep your immune system primed, and the common cold might not be as common in your life!  Bacteria and Colds

5) Lastly, and I know we might not like this one, but eat HEALTHY.  Your car doesn’t run well when you put junk into it, and neither do you.  If it’s impossible for you to eat healthy regularly, then at least try to feed your body with the good stuff when you’re sick.  The good news iveggiess, in the winter months, we need to eat more filling foods to protect our bodies from the cold.  Avoid canned, processed and frozen foods and eat fresh fruits that are in season, vegetables, and root vegetables, (sweet potatoes, radish, beets, carrots,) instead.  If you’re meat eater, try to buy meat that is from grass-fed or free range animals.  Incorporate foods that include live bacteria, such as certain kinds of yogurt, to keep the stomach lining full of good cold-fighting bacteria.  Most of our colds originate in our bellies!  Check out our Recipes, and next time we run our Sugar Challenge or Wellness Challenge, join us!  The quickest way to bust your bad habits is to join an accountability team.  Eating well will change your life, and increase your pocket-book.

A few years ago, while cleaning my shower and nearly suffocating by the fumes, I scratched my head about the chemicals I was inhaling and possibly absorbing through my skin.  I knew the shortness of breath I was experiencing and scratching in my lungs couldn’t mean that the chemical cleaner was healthy.  Yea, it cleans, but I don’t feel so well afterwards, and my house stinks like chemicals.  Plus, my dog (or future child) could grab this and die.  Not so good!  So, my quest began.

I was sadly disappointed with several options – most Earth Friendly and Healthy cleaners leave something to be desired.  They dissolve and cut MOST of the dirt and grime, but if I wanted to get deep into cleaning, I had to scrub, and scrub, and scrub and scrub.  But, recently, I discovered a combination that hits even the chemical cleaners out of the park – Citra Solv  concentrate, white distilled vinegar and water.  You can’t get anymore simple than this!  I’ve been testing this out for several weeks now before sharing it with you, and I promise you, you will not be disappointed!  It cleans my sinks without scouring, it makes my tile floors look like new, I also use it on my countertops and in my shower.  Citra Solv has many other uses without the water and vinegar, like cleaning up pet messes, and leaving a fresh scent behind…very thankful to that, and well worth the investment!  (If you click on the links I’ve placed for Citra Solv, you’ll find all of its many uses.)

photo

Here are the directions for my new Green, Human Body Friendly, and Beautifully Aromatic all-purpose cleaner:

2 ounces Citra Solv

4 ounces white distilled vinegar

26 ounces water

Play around with the mixture to see what works best for what you’re trying to use it for.

On a side note – I like this better than just using vinegar and water because it cuts the grime better, I can’t smell the vinegar, and leaves my house smelling fresh.  If you have marble countertops, you can just use the Citra Solv and Water.

You can find Citra Solv online, or at most health food stores.

 

A few days ago, I spent nearly the entire day in intentional silence with other people – no watches, no television, no phones, no internet, no facebook, no small talk – just me, myself, and Mother Nature.  It was one of the most therapeutic, enriching and inexpensive treatments I have ever participated in!  It’s something worth considering…

This time of year especially, it’s so easy to buzz around from task to task, get stressed because we’re not completing our list of tasks, start to resent the people we’re doing tasks for, get frustrated at strangers for not intuitively knowing they’re impeding on our ability to quickly complete tasks, and so on…the result is we completely lose sight of our intention for our actions and our life.  Can you relate?  I can!Green Earth Space

What is YOUR PURPOSE for this life of yours?  What is YOUR intention?  These are big questions, and I assure you that the answer is not going to come to you as you are bouncing around frantically. 🙂  As I’m learning through the Handel Method, one of the key elements to achieving true liberation and happiness is not by buying more things, (which I think most of us KNOW, but most don’t practice,) or hanging out with more friends, or drinking more wine, or getting our relatives and significant others to do EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT…the key to achieving true liberation and happiness is by identifying your Purpose for your life, and identifying your Intentions for accomplishing that Purpose.  From there, we can design our interactions, our responses, our choices, towards INTENTIONALLY accomplishing this Purpose.  Similar to how we feel in our physical bodies when we practice yoga and our joints and vertebrae are in alignment – when our actions and speech are in alignment with our intention and purpose, we feel liberated and happy.

Here’s a simple example – Most of my friends have children, and I hear all of the time the guilt they feel when they lose their cool with their kids.  Most parents want to be loving, yet strong guardians for their children.  However, when they yell, they feel fraudulent, because their intention is to be a loving and strong guardian, not a tyrant.  Why did they yell?  Because they lost sight of their intention and simply allowed the heat of the moment to take over and drive.

Creating a stronger connection to our intention through Meditation and Silence is like strengthening a muscle – we get better at it the more we practice.  For the very same reason that we all should practice Meditation, (see Sarah’s Beginner’s Guide to Meditation,) I participated in this day of Silence, of respite.  If a full day of silence is not possible for you, I encourage you to set aside a few hours.  Tell your family and friends up front about your plans to do this.  Go outside, sit in silence, journal, take a siesta from connecting to everyone else, and connect with yourself.  You will discover a lot.

With much love.  Namaste.

(I am asked a lot what Namaste means!  In the yoga community, it has evolved to mean: “the light within me salutes the light within you.”  We will write a post about this later. :))

One of my criterias for finding and trying healthy recipes, is that the recipe is easy.  If it easy, and then yummy, I will make it again.  This one passes easy and yummy!  This recipe came from Doug Kaufman’s book Cooking Your Way to Good Heath An awesome recipe book if you’re looking to reduce candida in your body.

I tried this warm, right when it was done cooking. It reminded me of the chocolate molten cake filling that I’ve had on a Carnival Cruise!  I tried it cold as the recipe suggests, and it was yummy too.  Definitely satisfies my chocolate craving.

Ingredients:

1 can coconut milk

3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa powder)

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup xylitol, powdered in a coffee grinder or blender (I didn’t do this.)

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp arrowroot powder (I couldn’t find this without driving to a health food store.  If you’re not gluten intolerant, 2 tbsp of flour = 1 tbsp arrowroot powder.)

Process:

Pour coconut milk into a bowl and stir with a whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth.  While whisking, pour 1/3 of the coconut milk into the eggs.  Add the unsweetened cocoa and continue to use the whisk until it’s all smooth.

Get out a med. saucepan and set over med-high heat, pour the remaining coconut milk into the saucepan, along with the xylitol, salt and arrowroot powder.  Whisk to combine.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is hot and just beginning to thicken.

Very slowly, while whisking, pour the hot coconut milk mixture into the egg/cocoa mixture.

Once the two are combined, pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and turn the heat to medium.  Continue to stir for about 3-4 minutes more until the mixture becomes thick like pudding.

Pour into individual ramekins or whatever you have around that can easily go into your fridge.

It will take 2 hours to completely chill and set.

“Be at peace with everyone in your life – most particularly, your relatives” – Dr. Wayne Dyer

I have to be honest; I love this time of year!  From Halloween through Christmas, the shift in the air is exhilarating and cherished.  I love the comfort foods, bundling up and taking walks or curling up on the couch to read a book.  But this time of year also brings its share of challenges as we’re brought into closer quarters with certain family members, and maybe friends, who get under our skin.  Most of us have one to a few family members that really, really challenge us to keep the peace that we seek.  I’m writing this to help you set your intention on keeping your peace this Holiday Season.  There is a beautiful chapter in Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book The Power of Intention that deals with just this, and is where my inspiration to share this with you is coming from.

We usually have two reactions in “dealing” with these relatives:  1) Be inauthentic to keep the peace, 2) Blow up at them to put them in their place.  And consequently,  days or weeks before we see them, we anticipate one of these two things happening in our minds, and feel anxious about our meeting.  Truly, I only know this, because I have done this!  We are all so similar. 🙂 By having these thoughts of anxiety, we are subscribing ourselves to remove peace from our own lives.  (As evidence, notice your body contract or become tense with just these thoughts.)  This is you removing the peace from your life.  You are doing it.  Not your relative.

What you think about expands in your life.  With your reaction, you have decided to make your relatives’ thoughts or opinions more important than your own convictions or intentions.  As much as they may annoy, criticize, outrage or judge you, you have consented to feel or react accordingly.  No one can truly make you feel anything, but yourself.  Since most days, we don’t recognize this truth, this person now has power over us.  And by thinking and behaving reactionary, we have completely removed the peace from our own life.

To really transform our relationships, we have to take an honest look at ourselves.  In many situations, the tension we feel, is a reflection of what is amiss within ourselves – otherwise, none of this would bother us.  If we are peaceful and accepting within ourselves, there is no room for non-peace because peace would fill the space.  You can shift the pattern of negativity by subscribing only to thoughts that make you feel expansion within your heart, your body.  You will physically feel the difference.  Here’s an exercise to try: sit for 2 minutes, close your eyes, and visualize embracing someone you love, talking with an old friend, or seeing something you find beautiful.  Take full inhales and exhales.  When the 2 minutes are up, notice how light you feel after just 2 minutes!   For 2 minutes, you set your intention to shift your thoughts and to invite peace into your life. 

How can you really practice this in your life?  Before you see this person, set your intention for peace within yourself by connecting with your highest self.  When you see this person, and they do or say something that would have outraged you in the past, remember your intention for peace within yourself.  Take a deep breath, and respond.  Peace means laying down, but laying down gives you strength.  One of my favorite quotes is “You can’t beat out darkness with a baseball bat, you have to turn on the light” – anonymous.  The change must come from you.

Our family members may still behave the same, but when we have changed, we will not be affected or at the mercy of their control.  When you practice this act of connecting to your higher self, and to lovingly accept your own authenticity and your own convictions, you withdraw yourself from interacting with lower energies.  When your relative says something outrageous, where you would have previously reacted with judgement by rolling your eyes or making a maliscious comment back, look at them sweetly, and smile lovingly at them instead. If you choose to speak, respond kindly by your tone and your words.   Yes, do it.  Trust me, you will feel so good if you do!

We will never change others, without first changing ourselves.   The only way to change the situation is to shift yourself, and you will feel the energy change.  You will feel the wind fall out of their sails.  You may even rub off on them, and eventually, may look forward to seeing those people who you used to dread seeing.  Imagine that!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.   Give your family a hug with gratitude for all that they teach you.

Continuing with the Pumpkin craze, here is a recipe for a healthy and amazing pumpkin pudding.  It’s good to have healthy snacks around, I can finish this in 2 days all by myself!  If you like pumpkin, you will love this, and it’s HEALTHY, so you will feel good after eating it.  It’s also easy to make…another requirement of mine. 🙂

Pumpkin is like the red-headed step child of the squashes, and it’s tough to work it into our diets.  It also happens to be a nutrition superstar.  It’s high in fiber, and low in calories, and it packs in a ton of disease fighting nutrients that work synergistically together to keep you in optimum health: beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins C and E.  To top it off, it tastes good!  Later, I’ll write an article on why we should care so much about carotenoids, but just know that they do your body a great deal of good, (more than just the claimed saying that they improve your eyesight.)

I probably should have taking this pic when it was in the casserole! Trust me though, this is good.

Recipe:

1/4 cup powdered stevia or Xylitol

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger (optional)

1/4 tsp ground cloves

2 large eggs (I like to use eggs with Omega-3 content since we typically don’t get a lot of Omega 3 in our diets)

One 15-ounce can 100% pure pumpkin

One 12-ounce can evaporated nonfat milk or 12-ounce coconut milk or almond milk

Sprinkle of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in a small bowl.  Beat the eggs in a larger bowl, then stir in the entire can of pure pumpkin with the eggs.  Next, add the spices to the egg/pumpkin mixture.  Last, gradually stir in the milk.  Pour into a shallow casserole or oven-proof dish.  Place in oven for 30-40 minutes.  Be careful not to over-bake; the center should still be slightly wiggly.  Cool and enjoy at room temperature or cover and refrigerate for later.

 

Sugar and Core Challenge

How long:  21 days

When: Nov 1 – Nov 21

Where:  Wherever you are – at home, at work, in the mall, at the airport, at your friend’s house, or in the park.

Why 21 days:  It takes 21 days to bust a habit

Why Now:  Before we get into the holidays is a good time to cleanse and prime our bodies so that we make clear choices at the wonderful festivities this time of year brings!

Yay Handstand!

Why Sugar and Core together:  Both require intention, discipline and sharpening of will power.  Most will likely find either the core or the sugar challenge to be easier over the other, the one that is most difficult for you to stick to, is the one that is needed the most.  Will power is like a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to work.Cost: 1 class card or $10 (depending on your program and where you are)

How it works:

Sugar

No refined sugars (desserts, muffins, coffee cake, candy, most chocolate, café drinks with sugar, fruit juices with added sugar) for only 21 days. (I would like to include alcohol since it just converts to sugar, but so do carbs, and then we’re getting into the Wellness Challenge.  Go ahead & drink your wine. J)

**Note: I will be posting healthy, no sugar, dessert ideas throughout the challenge!

Core

Week 1: Core work 50 breaths, 7 times per week

Week 2: Core work 75 breaths, 7 times per week

Week 3: Core work 100 breaths, 7 times per week

**1 breath = inhale/exhale.  There is no core work too easy or too hard, you will adjust it to YOUR strength and situation.  I will offer ideas only!

Challenge to win – I’m changing this up!  If you post all 21 days, and have no cheats or core skips, you will earn 3 free classes!  (if you’re not a Miko Yoga student, you will earn your $10 back!)

Quick Summary:

–           Earn 1 point for every post regarding challenge – post right here, on this page @ realgreendaily.com

–          7 points = 1 free class; (earn as many as 3 free classes)

–          Lose 1 point for each cheat or skip

Long Summary:

It’s important that you use the blogsite www.realgreendaily.com to post – this creates accountability.  Trust me, you will think twice about having a piece of chocolate, or skipping your core work, if you know you’re going to have to fess up on the blog to everyone!

For every post you make stating how you resisted a sweet, ate a sweet, did your core work and how you feel about it, sat on the couch and ate potato chips and how you feel about that, you will earn 1 point.  7 full points = 1 free class.  This means, if you post all 21 days, and have no cheats or core skips, you will earn 3 free classes!  For each cheat you have, you will lose 1 point.  In the spirit of authenticity, please be honest, you will only be cheating yourself in more ways than one if you’re not!

I LOVE pumpkin – pumpkin pie, pumpkin latte, pumpkin smoothie, pumpkin pudding – you name it, if it’s pumpkin, I like it.  (Fall is a great time of year for me!!)  The trouble I find is that almost all pumpkin dishes are loaded with added sugar!  So, I’ve created an awesome Healthy Yummy Pumpkin Smoothie recipe that you can feel good about enjoying.

If you want to skip over my commentary here, the recipe is at the bottom, but before I give away the recipe, I need be completely honest with you.  The other morning, I felt Fall creeping in, and my Pumpkin craving soared.  I excitedly went to my pantry to pull out a can of 100% Pure Pumpkin puree, and guess what I found!?  I found that I had mistakenly bought Pumpkin Pie mix!  The little devil on my left shoulder started rubbing her hands together with an excited smile, and she told me, “hey, it’s Organic, so it’s all good.”  The little angel on my right shoulder tried to reason, reminding me that I am not supposed to have a lot of sugar, the doctor would not approve…but alas, just this once, (yea right,) the little devil won…and I excitedly whipped up my smoothie recipe with the Organic Pumpkin Pie mix.  It’s funny because it sounded SO good, wrong, worth it and delicious, but like every other time I give in, it wasn’t!  I had such a massive sugar rush to the head that morning, I wasn’t myself, and then was greeted by the massive sugar plummet by lunch time – I had as much energy as a pancake. 🙂

Two points here:

1) Listen to your angel!  We will feel better, and ultimately, that’s all we want from life, is to FEEL GOOD!

2) Just because it is Organic, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Healthy Yummy Pumpkin Smoothie (The real deal)

2-3 heaping scoops canned Pure Pumpkin

1/2 frozen banana or 1/2 apple

5 shakes cinnamon

5 shakes cloves

nutmeg to taste

water, coconut milk, or almond milk

1 scoop plain greek yogurt (optional)

spinach or barley grass (optional)

pinch or drop of stevia and vanilla extract

Blend up and enjoy