Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Christmas Wish - Love for All

"Why me?"..... A "small" part of me ask this question of God each day and the answer is always the same...."because you asked me to"....and from there I am filled with gratitude and encouragement.

We may not know or understand the ways and whys behind the whats in our lives...

....I am blessed to be SURROUNDED on a continual basis with others whose situations, struggles, challenges, and pains (oh, the pains) are far worse than my own.....chemically sensitive, foods that "don't sit" well with me (among other "highlights" in my life), and although through many modalities I have seen many shifts, changes and, improvements, many things still remain....to serve a greater purpose....perhaps a challenge...every time I ask, I am given a situation that reminds me why....
...to be considered a safe place for even strangers to approach with their deepest of stories and griefs while sitting with a friend on her lunch break and as my children played open-air chess....to share that they have a beautiful smile and heart to share and give when it seems as though they have nothing...
...and as I embrace with ease these "things" about me that are "challenging", they remind me on a daily basis...."consider the fruit"...."Does this serve to my own delight or can I choose to embrace others within my choices, and oddly enough to my delight as well?"

....so what is it that I ask of God? "Please, if it is your Will, have my life and my choices serve to the benefit, the encouragement, and the building up of others."

Grateful for where I "fall short" and how it still serves as a lesson or encouragement. Grateful that to many I seem strong and resilient, when for me, I feel weak and sometimes trapped. Grateful to know that I am known to delight in the service of others (and for me, it is to connect with others in unlikely places). Grateful for the gifts that I am unaware of, and grateful for what about me that others may not appreciate, find annoying, frustrating, and would rather I just got rid of or went somewhere else with it. And above all, I am grateful that I love...and that I am still present to share in this experience called love....and to feel on this human level what it feels like in love....

This holiday season, I pray that you may feel THIS love (stuck-in-the-back-of-your-throat-making-you-want-to-cry-with-overwhelm-and-fear-of-unknown-levels-of-joy-kinda-love....==> it is not pain, it is not weakness, it is the feeling of loving flow to overflowing) and let it flow through you and EXTEND it to those around you.

Happiness to all your Holy Days and glory and praise to the Highest.
#celebratingLoveandLight #canEachDayBeHoly #lovealways #MerryChristmas

Friday, October 18, 2013

Happy BIRTHday!



Facebook post 7:13am October 18, 2013 (full moon and day after my birthday)

Good morning!! AM I EVER grateful to that 37 year old woman who shared with me the unity and separation of spiritual and physical, the authenticity of honouring your truest expression of soul's gratitude,... connecting soul to soul and how it changes the depth of beauty we see in all around us,...and that her final thought was to cozy into the love in decrescendo and ask "What more?" She was so filled with hope and joy and set a great foundation of leaving nothing that she could do undone (well, maybe some laundry... ) She and what she chose to live and experience will be well remembered... as the 36 year old woman before her, and the women, and girls before them.

In order to grow, things must pass on....If we knew how much we "die" in each day, we may strive to LIVE that much more. There is such beauty in "growth"...lets us allow for those moments where silence defines and gratitude fully resonates.

On that note, it was a great day yesterday...Thank to all of you being present and living to make it that much greater to enjoy

#ThankyouGod #HappyBIRTHday #allnew #grateful #alive

Monday, October 7, 2013

Environmental Sensitivities - Time to put on a mask...

It's been a long and winding road this journey....starting with underdeveloped lungs from being too anxious to wait for my arrival day (born 7 - 8 weeks early and thankful that both my mom and I are here to speak of it).  Then shortness of breath for most of my childhood that grew into environmentally triggered asthma and a growing sensitivity to chemicals and synthetic fragrances....and now, lets just say, I am organically designed ;)  I love nature, use nature (natural products) in my house and health and eat as much organic, super, and local as possible. 

The good news is, as I grew in honouring my body's message of stress and strife (I was not as aware as I am now), I experience a whole LOT LESS chronic and constant pain as I had before.  I had migraines, heart issues, asthma attacks, upper and lower back pain, pain behind my eyes....ALL THE TIME! And in part from not recognizing that the "fragrances" and chemicals in the products I was using was contributing to this crippling experience. (Like being paralyzed from fragrance didn't help me clue in...but oh well!!)  My immune system was depressed, I started having reactions to anesthetics, etc, etc, etc...honestly, the things that cleared up in my health and ability when I had less and less exposure to the things that harm me inside and out was amazing.

But for as good as I feel on a constant basis now, there are other moments that register as "over-exposure" for me that remind me of how strong I must have been to endure such pain on a constant basis.  And those are the moments I am navigating through on a constant basis.  It's a juggling act, going out into public gatherings, for the most part, seem as a daunting experience for me and my family.  I know what to expect, the high possibility that there will be fragrance in the environment....but depending on circulation of the building, inside or outside venues, how crowded, etc. I may or may not be able to breath as freely as I would like.  I've pushed myself in several situations over the last year (LOL testing seems to be in my character), and have found that its better to choose another solution for public experiences.

So I have been looking solutions....detoxes, switching to natural products, more houseplants, eating alkaline and organic foods, foods high in antioxidants, dealing with emotional triggers and traumas, etc., keeping my thoughts and emotions flowing and non-toxic....I have dedicated myself to non-toxic living as much as possible.  And through this, I can see how my reactions are shifting and how I have gained a larger "threshold" in "scented" sitautions.  But I don't stay in a bubble!  I go out and do what I need to do....work, playdates, meetings over coffee, shopping.  Sometimes it works well and sometimes I come home very drained and sore and crash out for hours or even days.....and so now it has come to the point where I would like to do these things without "holding my breath". 

Now with that in mind, it does not change the fact that some people do where enough fragrance for others to taste in there mouth or to smell them a good city block away...It also doesn't change the fact that I have a very discerning palette and can identify many different types of products and fragrances and even what "scent" they are suppose to have....from fabric softeners, to laundry detergents, to deodorants, scented candles, essential oils, plants, herbs, etc.  I LOVE that I can pick out flavor or scent with the what God has graced me with.  But sometimes, too much is too much, and even when I am travelling in the public, I can see other peoples reactions to scent...without me having displayed any change or reaction myself.  AND knowing what some of these chemicals can do and ARE doing to people also helps to keep me passionate, that whether or not I can smell or sense a chemical in the environment, there is an adverse affect that it is having.....I am just thankful for the experience that I have had to make me wise in this regard....

SO, now it is mask time!!  So I can breathe more deeply and move about more freely!!  I have invested in a RESPRO mask, but will be ordering another type of their masks (Allergy Mask) to see if it is even more fresher to breathe through...

In the meantime, fresh air to you all :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Consider yourself....

I started off this morning with a post on facebook that read...

"After discussing fear with several people lately, a question that comes to mind and a consideration I pose for all who read this (includes myself).....

Since MANY of us do not like the unknown (or the uncertainty and lack of "control" within the unknown) and may not be willing to embrace the unknown, AND in things and situations that are unknown do we tend to put a fear (hesitation, resistance, challenge, confusion, frustration, anxiety, problem, anger, hatred, separation...), then I ask.....Do YOU fear yourself?

Please feel free to answer and I will post the OTHER question later on today.... ;)"



"Why ask "Do you fear yourself?"  Because the question behind the question is....Do you really KNOW yourself?  Have you dove into the areas of YOU and considered WHO you are....
  •  Do you know what your foundation is that you have chosen to build your life on?
  • Have you considered the fruits that you want to see in your life and why you would want to see that particular fruit?
  • Have you considered how you will nourish YOUR roots to help them to grow and establish yourself and a producer of good fruit in your life?
  • Have you considered how you are producing the current fruit that you pick and eat in your life right now?
  • Have you decided how you would like to consistently show up in this world as or what you choose to respond to life's circumstances through?
  • Have you considered how you want to see your own reflection and embrace what it is that you see in the mirror?
  • Have you considered the depth to which you want to experience relationships in your life?
  • Have you noticed how you currently connect with those around you and does that match the level to which you would like to connect with others?
  • Have you considered what level of energy that you want to be and show up as in the lives of others?  How brightly do you currently shine and does it match the level to which you would like shine at?
  • If you do not desire to shine or consider others or nourish yourself or grow or find joy in life around you, then what are you considering and does that match what you would most like in your life?
Now these are just some questions that I may ask myself....in particular during my quiet times (personal, introspective, and reflective time while studying the Bible) and as I go throughout my day.  But they are deep diving type of questions....the kind that you can't help but considering as you go about life and it's many approaches....

Notice that I am not asking about what roles you play in the lives of others, what jobs you currently have, what positions you currently hold, how many businesses you presently run or what you have done or succeeded to do in the past.....
Because IN all of those circumstances and situations, YOU are still the fundamental part of it happening and being the experience that you had or have.
It is not even your name, but at the very core of the life that is happening around you that you see.....how are you choosing to build, shape, mold, maintain the filter through which YOUR life is made viable?
 
When I chose to become a Disciple over 11 years ago...I was already at a point in my life where I found myself trying wanted my slate to be wiped clean.  I was choosing no longer to be defined by what I have done or what labels I was to referred to. (As in Ephesians 4:21-23 ~  "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.") It was freeing to know that it is possible to just get to the core of who I was/am and the joy that waited for me there.  And it's all OVER the New Testament...asking you to consider yourselves and your relationship with God and with Jesus AND with others.
And you don't have to necessarily "know" yourself as a finished and done deal.  As I continue to study out the Bible on a consistent basis, I realize that in order to have certain "fruits" of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23 ~ "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."), it does involve a consideration of WHO I am and WHO I chose to be and be of...on a daily, as-long-as-I-am-breathing kinda basis. Especially if I am choosing to grow in my life.

 Getting to know yourself more deeply and choosing to enjoy that which you are and experiencing YOU (and your life) more fully takes away that fear/doubt/uncertainty and builds that faith within yourself and that which you have come from.  You grow in KNOWING....and that KNOWING goes forward with you regardless of the unknown. Faith is that confidence, knowing, and trust in God and his greater vision for your life (Can you imagine?...even bigger than your biggest dream for your life?).  (Hebrews 11:1 ~ "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.")  And when we consider that God can see more than we are able to even dream or envision for ourselves....let's face it, God is coming from a place of being able to see the bigger picture, and through a perspective that is of Love and Truth. If God's vision for us is all good and full of benefit and blessing, why not trust in and have faith that God and life in you? 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Recipe: Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers



I feel like quinoa tonight! Like quinoa tonight! (Okay, I am actually singing that and remembering my sister running through the kitchen YEARS ago trying to get me to laugh as I was doing my homework.  She would start in the living room, flapping her arms like a bird, running quickly past the length of the table, and singing... "I feel like chicken tonight! Like chicken tonight." That was a commercial...


Anyways, I have been feeling like having a recent recipe that our family had a month or two ago...stuffed peppers. Oddly enough, I haven't really it before (or maybe I have but don't recall), but I got inspired by my family complaining about eating rice, salad or potatoes all the time and figured it was time for a "drastic" change in the appearance and presentation of our side dishes. Hey man, when you are tired and in a hurry and not feeling very creative or inspired in the kitchen.....stuff happens.

Well "stuffed" happened and here is the recipe....

Stuffed Red Peppers


Makes 4 tall servings or 8 shorter servings

4 large bell peppers (cut in half for 8 servings, seeds and ribs cleaned out)
1 cup quinoa (dry measure)
1 cup ground beef (I use an organic grass fed source)
1/4 cup shitake mushrooms (finely chopped)
1 medium onion (chopped)
½ tsp Onion powder
½ tsp Garlic powder
½ tsp Paprika
Himalayan or unrefined sea salt
Black pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp Cayenne pepper
½ tsp Nutmeg
½ tsp Basil(dried or 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped)
1 medium carrot (shredded)
1 cup chopped kale
½ can of tomato sauce
White cheddar - shredded (optional)

Directions

1. Bring water to a boil in a saucepan.then add quinoa. Reduce heat to medium-low, place a cover on the saucepan, and simmer until the rice is tender, about 40 minutes; transfer to a large mixing bowl.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Break ground beef into small pieces and place in the skillet. Add onion, mushrooms, and garlic; cook and stir until the beef is completely browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Mix beef mixture into brown rice.
4. Stir tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and Italian seasoning into the rice mixture and season filling with salt and black pepper.
5. Arrange bell peppers in a baking dish. Spoon filling into bell peppers.
6. Bake in preheated oven until the peppers are tender, about 1 hour. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the stuffed peppers to serve.



NOTE: Can substitute the ground beef for finely chopped mushrooms (I use dried shitake mushrooms rehydrated, finely chopped and sautéed...rich flavour...), and omit the cheese for a vegan recipe.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Recipe: Quinoa Tabouleh

I love this recipe!  Now, of course, to support my gluten-free-ness in my home space, I swapped out bulgur (wheat) for the quinoa (superfood option :) ) and added a few of my "own" touches asfter going through a few (maybe a dozen or so) recipes and seeing what appealed to my taste the most.  This is a foundational recipe in our kitchen, which means that variations may occur (frequently...based on what is most available), but THIS version of the recipe brings the biggest MMMMMMmmmmm out of me ;).  Optional ingedients that have been used is the addition of cucumber (fine chop), sun-dried tomatoes, red wine vinegar (more like greek salad, especially with the cucumber) or adjustments in the ratio of quinoa, parsely, red peppers....you get the idea....have fun!

Enjoy!!

Quinoa Tabouleh

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dry quinoa
1 1/4 cups water
3 cups loosely packed, roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, about 3 bunches
1 cup loosely packed, chopped cilantro (coriander)
1 1/2 cups peeled and dice tomatoes, about 3 to 5 Roma tomatoes
1/4 finely chopped red pepper
1/4 cup green onions chopped, about 2 green onions
1/4 finely chopped red onion
1/4 to 1/2 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped basil

For the dressing:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano (optional)

Directions

Bring water to a boil, pour in quinoa, stir, cover, and turn to minimal heat. Let cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy and tender. Pour off any remaining liquid.

To prepare dressing, in a small non-reactive bowl, whisk together lemon juice, garlic, salt and oil. Taste and adjust seasonings.

In a large salad bowl, toss together parsley, cilantro, tomatoes, green onions, mint and basil. Add quinoa. Pour dressing over salad, toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings for personal satisfaction. :)



Friday, March 1, 2013

Let`s Go Green!

It March 1st and to kick off "Go Green" month the boys and I had a great lunch!








Green smoothies (glowing green actually) and tuna with dijon and fresh chopped parsley on gluten-free "chia chia" bread from Silver Hills.  It was our first time with the bread that we found at Planet Organic at a reasonable price.  My son had been asking for some GF bread and I said I would check for something, but wasn`t paying over $5 for anything.  Honestly, I love(d) bread too and it`s texture, but I am sure we could bake something else that doesn`t have all types of miscellaneous ingredients just for the sake of being "free" of gluten.

With that said, I want to make a vital point that has been on my mind and will pertain to "Go Green" month.  What is meant in our family by "Go Green" is "Back to Basics".  Not consuming processed facsimiles of a food to support an allergy or belief, but to turn to whole, live, supportive foods that don`t come with added preservatives and chemicals.  There is almost nothing easier to prepare than fresh (raw even) fruits and vegetables.  They are my go-to "fast" foods.  And they build you up!  Many of the building blocks we need come from green foods, nuts and seeds, and high nutrient fruits and veggies, so they should be our first go-to foods and the ones we eat in abundance.  Then if you are to choose for meats (or not), try and consume then in the least "processed" manner possible.  For meats, the ideal that I would recommend is organic, free to roam and feed on grass and bugs, etc, and humanely treated sources (this is NOT common BTW, but an organic halal farmer would be good to know ;) ).  Much of my off-the-land experience was you raise your own food with a loving touch (my grandparents) or hunt and fish off the land.  And with other protein sources like nuts and legumes, I recommend soaking and even sprouting for their consumption or use.  Those are my back to basic tips stemmed from eating happy, whole, supportive foods.

The green smoothies I had been making for years and my kids have loved them (they have always helped me to make them and they enjoy them fresh or frozen as pops or cubes), but one recipe I tried a couple years ago has stuck in our house with special thanks to nutritionist, Kimberly Snyder. Not sure how I came across her and her info and recipes, but I am truly grateful for her beautiful influence on our enjoyment on all things green.  Her famed recipe is the Glowing Green Smoothie.  If you THOUGHT that you didn`t like vegetables, especially the green ones, then you MUST try this.  I even find it to be on the "sweet" side (being used to just drinking straight salad), so I put in less fruit.  I like the idea of drinking my veggie portions for the day, especially when they taste like this!  Now ideally, you would drink the GGS to itself and give it some time to absorb before having something else.  I also do the same with water....even spacing (has to do with maximizing the digestive acids in  our belly...and getting the most out of our food).  Kris Carr also has a green juice frequently and spaces her enjoyment of it in the same way (A peek at my plate...more on this later).

This month I will be pulling from all my favourite green food advocates (whole-food, raw, vegetarian, and vegan alike), so stay tuned :).

Go Green Month is here!

As I said on Facebook this morning...

"Good morning!! It's "go green" month!! YAY! Been cleaning our house and making spaces more open in flow, allowing fresh air to come through our windows, more outdoor and reading time, less electronic time, going through our closets and thinning out the extras, adding in more exercise, and of course... ♥ GREEN FOOD!! ...this weekend we get a few more plants (that I will be able to support in its life experience...RIP to the last addition... :( ...), stock up on the green goodies and make the jump on Spring with the cleaning. What else would you add to "Go Green" month?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

So Fresh and So Clean - Air Filtering Houseplants


It's a high commodity nowadays.  Fresh and clean air is becoming a limited resource in our lives and society.  We have become less connected to our natural spaces and spend more time indoors or in man-made structures than we do in the great outdoors.

The benefits of clean, unadulterated, fresh air are many from mental clarity, to increased metabolism, to improved immune system....from your nose and through your skin  and all the way down to a cellular level, we need to consider how to BEST oxygenate ourselves for optimal health and life experience.

Starting in March, I plan to go GREEN!  My focus is to bring in the benefits of green (chlorophyll and photosynthetic exchange) into my personal environment...one of which will be some additional houseplants.
Golden pothos or Devil's ivy
(Scindapsus aures or Epipremnum aureum)

Now that our children are older and less interested in eating random plants around the house, it will be a great opportunity to invite more of our green friends in to live with us and help us to enjoy to beneficial exchange resulting in cleaner air and growth for us all.

There is a list of some of the best air-filtering plants that was put together through a NASA clean air study.  These plants help to remove toxic agents from the air that tend to lead to people getting sick, especially in indoor spaces.
Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)

My mom had all of these plants (and more) in the house when I was growing up.  Honestly, we would play in among the plants as though we were in a jungle!  There were so many of them and it was so much fun.  Not as much fun when she had us cleaning the leaves as a keep-busy task during school breaks, but now I can appreciate it more :) .  She knew that they cleaned the air, and am I ever grateful that I got to grow up in that environment.  Now, more than ever, is the time to create an indoor "jungle" of my own.
Broadleaf Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)

My family also had some of these plants planted outside (as decoration) in the tropics and I got to see how they thrived there as well.  Most of them are pretty easy to take care of and even some of the fussy ones will do well if you can get them in the right spot with the right amount of water.  You could always purchase a high quality air cleaner as well, but these add colour and interaction that a machine can't quite offer.

Flamingo Lily (Anthurium andraeanum)
 Also, household plants can contribute to increasing the negative ion balance in your home.  Electronic devices like cell phones, laptops, computers, appliances, televisions, and so much more all produce positive ions into our environment and for the most part, those positive ions will "ground" themselves on the most available and closest source of negative ions....YOU!!  That's right!  And it has been noted that excess positive ions  may be contributing to our fatigue and tiredness....(coffee anyone?!)   SO, again, plants come with another way to make our living environments that much better to enjoy.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa')

The list I am referencing is available at Wikipedia that has a nice chart of what the plants filter from the air.  Here are some with images....


Pot Mum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
 Who knew that these mums that are available in the spring and fall in abundance at almost every place that sells flowers would be one of the best air filters for your home.  I have a few of these perennials (they come back each year) growing in my garden that I planted outside after being in the house as decoration.
Cornstalk dracaena
(Dracaena fragans 'Massangeana')
 LOL, as I child I know that I asked my mom when the corn would grow from this plant.  It was one of my favourites.

Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)

 I had one of these while I was studying in University.  His name was Charley.  He was my friend :).  I even painted a still life with Charley as the focal point.

English Ivy (Hedera helix)
 These are very easy to find and common as well.  They are perennial (if you want to plant some outside as well) and avid creepers, so make sure you either have as a hanging plant or you can have fun wrapping it around shapes or mini trellises.

(NOTE to reader!!!  Just so you know, the reason I have NOT had a jungle environment in my home is not due to a lack of trying....I love gardening...outside.  But I have not been the most successful at growing indoor houseplants.  I will admit, I am not the most thoughtful to my houseplants...I like plants I don't have to water much or worry about humidity or lighting, but I am choosing to REPENT of this in order to improve my health and quality of life inside (my house) and out.)

Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata "Bostoniensis")
With the above mentioned notice, THIS particular air-cleaning wonder has been a challenge for me to grow.  I think it's mainly due to the fact that we keep our home pretty cool, especially in the winter, and these are tropical plants, preferring higher temperatures.  BUT they are supposed to be low maintenance (like my sons' hair ) and my mom grows these successfully in her home, so its not that hard.  Low light and moderate watering and they take care of themselves for the most part.  Giving this one a go again this year.

Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
 Love that these plants (in the right place) will produce many little "babies" that you can transplant or share with friends.  The more the merrier :)
Lilyturf or Monkey Grass (Liriope spicata)
 Similar in look to the spider plant and creeps like grass.  I would give this a rectangle pot to spread out in.  Again, grows well enough inside and out and enough to share with friends too.

Snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue
(Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii')

One word to describe these plants...HARDY!  Even though they are tropical plants, these are extremely LOW maintenance, so if you feel that you struggle with the lives of little green friends, this should be your first choice.  Give them enough room and they will grow and grow.  We have had these plants for over a decade (two of them)...moved in all seasons with them.....in it's original pot (I'm transplanting this year...promise!).....travelled and forgot to water... keep our home at cool temperatures...and have stuck them in the most awkward of corners and they are STILL ALIVE!  The kids have even pulled them out of the soil a few times...these are a must in my books (and they don't bite or talk ;) ).