I just heard it is WORLD KINDNESS DAY. I once read you should write your obituary the way you'd like to be remembered and then live up to it. I’m sure we all have someone who pops into our minds as a very kind person whom we try to emulate. The first person who always pops into my mind is my aunt. Called ‘Aunty’ by her 14 nieces and nephews, and many more great nieces and nephews, she was known as ‘Honey’ to her siblings, friends and the entire town of Medford, and everyone who met her. Need I say more!
Aunty was the person who always found the good in EVERY person. I never heard her gossip or say a negative thing about anyone. It’s the little things. Teens in Medford would come and hang out with her, talking about their problems in her sitting room next to the kitchen. She would listen and encourage them. Every fall she would hire these teens to help print the envelopes and mail 40,000 desk calendars for the family business. No matter where she was she had friends from every generation, and truly loved being surrounded by youth.
At 19 years old Aunty was paralyzed in an automobile accident. Never did she ask ‘why me’. For years she lay in bed writing hundreds of letters each week to her penpals serving in WWII. When they returned she learned how to walk again with the paralyzed vets ‘swinging through’ her crutches. She became an accomplished artist, eventually got her driver’s license again, and after my grandfather passed away she bought a very worn summer cottage overlooking the Bay of Fundy and renovated it. For the next 35 years she drove to Nova Scotia each Fourth of July with my grandmother and any family member who wanted to join them. She would bake bread and cook over a wood burning stove, take the neighbor kids berry picking and make jams for the neighbors, painting the views with anyone who wanted to join her. Once again her kindness spread across the farms on the bluffs of Nova Scotia and townspeople looked forward to her summer arrival and warm smile. As kids, all of us nieces and nephews spent years in her kitchen over Holy Thursday and Good Friday kneading pounds and pounds of flour and helping to make the dozens of loaves of Italian Easter bread that she would gift to everyone. Aunty lived her entire life with her parents, and later in life the caregiving roles turned and she was there to care for my grandmother living with Alzheimers.
When we began to have children I knew I wanted to name one after her. I figured if my child was just 10% her they would be an incredibly kind person. I got my wish and our daughter is named after her. She sees the good in people others may not even notice. Who pops into your mind on World Kindness Day?
Every morning I read devotions to remind myself to start my day centered. Others meditate. Today at yoga class we lifted up the tragedies of lives lost this past week between the diving boat fire and Hurricane Dorian to the powers of the universe. We ALL go through tough periods in our lives, myself included. This Peace is what has always gotten me through these times. I liked this from ‘The Mustard Seed’ daily devotion today:
Filled to the Brim-
The glass sits on the table filled to the halfway mark. Is it half full? Or is it half empty? Some people give one answer, and others say the opposite. The goal is to be the positive person who looks at the glass and says, “Half full.” The reality is that the glass is completely full! Part of it is filled with liquid; part of it is filled with air.
Sometimes it is easy to focus on the emptiness in our lives. We want to be full of joy, full of peace, full of hope. But often that seems impossible because too many people and situations drain our joy, peace, and hope.
These are the times we must remember that God’s Holy Spirit is always in us like the air we cannot see in the glass. He desires to fill us with good things and to assure us that God is at work in our lives. He enables us to focus on our loving God who cares for us. Then we can know true joy and the peace that surpasses all understanding. They are ours through faith in Jesus Christ.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
I got back from vacation with a garden full of ripe tomatoes! My favorite thing to do with an abundance of tomatoes is simple Italian cooking: core them, rub them with olive or avocado oil, and add some fresh crushed garlic in the cored hole. Place the tomatoes on a hot grill, cover it, and by the time your pasta is cooked the skins of the tomatoes have split, tomatoes are soft and dinner is ready! Could not be easier or more flavorful. Healthy eating is using what nature gives you in season and using the whole food without processing it.
After the skins have split, roughly cut the tomatoes up in a bowl with two knives and serve topped with some slivered fresh basil over your noodles. I used edamame noodles (naturally high in protein and gluten free) as well as zucchini spiraled noodles (also in abundance from the garden!). Both took less than 5 minutes to cook.
I love making dinner with what I grow in my garden! I hope you will try it too. Buon Appetito!
Hint: If you have an important buisness meeting the next day you may not want to use a clove of garlic per tomato!
You know, I look at this newly released endless list of shampoos, shower gels, hand soaps, all with a known cancer causing ingredient cocamide diethanolamine in them, and it simply confirms my choice to switch to #betterbeauty four years ago. I have a child who has had brain and thyroid tumors. I have another child on the Spectrum. You know what? ‘Know more. Do Better" is my motto. The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) reports that nothing has changed since 2013 when these chemicals and products were reported to have cancer-causing chemicals.
Chemical exposures put children at greater risk. “Because they are smaller, children are more highly exposed for their weight than adults. Children’s bodies also are undergoing critical stages of development... Now new research shows that environmental exposures can change how our genes are expressed – not genetic mutations, but whether genes are turned on or off and how they are read. These changes in gene expression, known as epigenetic changes, can also be passed on to future generations," says Environmental Working Group.
We are all able to reduce the chemical exposures of our family by simple behavioral changes and switching out for safer products. Leave your shoes and the chemicals on them at the door. Skip handling your credit card receipts - have it emailed. Switch out plastic food storage and microwaving to glass containers. Switch out plastic shower curtain liners to polyester quick dry fabric. Switch out your personal care products with clean products, without the known harmful chemicals.
Beautycounter has taken the guess work out of shopping, never using the 1500 ingredients of known or questionable toxins on their The Never List. I know the products are safe, and they are third party tested to confirm. They advocate in Washington for updating the Personal Care laws to be health protective too. One mission-focused source simplifies my shopping and home! If the hand soap and lotion (which I use ten times a day), body care, mineral-based sunscreen, shampoos, baby products for my great nieces and nephews, facial skin care or makeup aren’t Beautycounter - I don’t buy it. Simple. Friends don't let friends use harmful products. You may want to check it out. A high performing and much safer choice is Beautycounter https://bit.ly/2ZeQ9JR
Spring seemed to be a long time coming in the Northeast and now that it’s here I was craving a basic barbecue night and have my husband fire up his Weber grill. Knowing that we don’t want to eat beef for many reasons, and I didn’t want to eat a frozen veggie burger with gluten and preservatives, I made them myself.
Processed food contributes to many health problems due to preservatives, chemical additives, high fructose corn syrup and gluten. People need to eliminate processed food from their lives - plain and simple. There is nothing healthy about meals made IN a plant. Eat your meals made OF whole plants!
So when I wanted to make a good veggie burger I checked out one of my vegan cookbooks geared to MEN. Where else would I look? The Engine 2 Cookbook by Rip and Jane Esselstyn is a cookbook geared towards men and simple cooking. Recipes created to improve the health of the employees at a firehouse where men and women need nutritious energy and tasty food! These “Up and At ‘Em Burgers” were delicious topped by grilled pineapple drizzled with balsamic vinegar, grilled jalapeño, a spoonful of fresh sauerkraut (we like ), slice of tomato and lettuce. Mine was put on a gluten free bun - because I need to be gluten-free (yes, it gets a little messy, but think of it as finger-licking good!). We also had a yummy coleslaw with broccoli, carrot and red cabbage slaw dressed with Engine 2 Mango Lemon Dressing. Perfect ending to a nice spring weekend! #Engine2 #Upandatemburger #mangolemondressing #coachingwholehealth
People reduce stress in different ways. Some go for a run, some meditate or do yoga, others read or knit or maybe pour themself a drink (not the best habit to get in to to reduce stress by the way). Have you ever noticed how a child calms down after swinging? We adults need to listen to our bodies the way babies naturally do and find ways to quiet down our systems.
Yesterday when I got home after a long day at work I went for a walk around my neighborhood and took in what had popped out during our THREE weeks of rain. Nature’s beauty! It wasn't a wet, muddy road - it was brilliant colorful flowers, budding conifers, textures of branches and suspended raindrops that had been left for us by nature! Some people find their phones are a distraction, I find the camera on my phone allows me to be present and notice the tiny details of what surrounds me. It slows me down. I notice colors, textures, the awe of God’s creativity. When I got home 30 minutes later I felt like I had the afternoon off. Find ways that YOUR body responds to, to slow down and reset. Constant elevated cortisol (stress hormone) levels are not good for your health. #destress #photography #nature_perfection #coachingwholehealth #floraandfauna #springtime #raindrops
I hear over and over from people “I’m just pre-diabetic”. This is serious folks! If you do not turn around your way of eating and make lifestyle changes you will most likely be diabetic in five years...and diabetes is the leading cause of heart disease and strokes. Alzheimers is now called Type III Diabetes.
Move intentionally every day like walking at a brisk pace for 30 minutes. It can be two 15 minute walks. Movement is one of the best preventers.
Try to remove stress or at least decrease it. Stress kicks off your sympathetic nervous system, causing cortisol to raise in your system and cortisol raises your blood sugar. Try practicing deep breathing when you are feeling stressed - four second inhale, six second exhale. Focus on your breath in your nose or your chest and belly inflating and deflating in waves, repeat 6 times. That's one minute of focused breath. Everyone has ONE minute. When you come home from work or school, take five minutes to yourself and simply lay on your back with your legs up the wall for 5 minutes of downtime. If you have young children teach them to join you and you all line up with legs up the wall and your eyes closed. Amazing!
Switch out processed foods (the enemy) for whole food the way nature provides them. Add a fruit (berries are wonderful!) and veggie to every meal. At least 75% of your plate should be plants at every meal. Look at your plate like a pie with four sections. Two should be filled with 1c green veggies (zucchini, broccoli, beans, asparagus, kale, baby greens, cucumber), one section with 1/2c grain or potato, one section with 1/2c. protein or 3-4oz. of your choice like legumes, lentils, lean grass-fed meats, wild fish, 2 eggs - whatever your preference. Then add a 1/2c bowl of fresh fruit.
In order to prevent Type II diabetes increase movement, reduce stress and eat whole food from natures farm-acy. These simple changes can lower your blood sugar and improve your health outcome dramatically. For more science behind the diagnosis.
Our bodies crave human contact from the moment of birth. Babies are calmed by being held. At any age, a hug activates the parasympathetic nervous system, and lowers the blood pressure. A hug lets the person know you care.
At churches people offer one another God's Peace with a handshake. I look at it as 'passing love'. God's peace can be passed through words, a handshake or even a hug. Yup, I offer a hug! I do ask "Can I hug you?", and then give a big long hug. I can feel people relax in my arms and then feel them hugging back. Many older people may not have much contact during the week if they live alone and they appreciate the genuine moment of caring. I often get a response to my hug with "Thank you." This is a great article in Higher Perspectives with the science of hugging. "Hugging is the most beautiful form of communication that allows the other person to know beyond a doubt they matter."
Have you ever been in the hospital when you're sick only to be served an unhealthy meal of fried or processed food and iceberg lettuce which will never improve your health? I have been in the hospital and require a gluten free/ dairy free meal, and they bring up a bowl of jello and canned fruit for breakfast because that's all they could think of. I was listening to a podcast the other day and a heart patient had been served chicken nuggets. A man who just had a massive heart attack. Seriously! We can heal 70% of ailments with nutritious whole food.
I have always grown my own garden and was blown away to read this article about Boston Medical Center. "The little oasis produces 5,300 pounds of nutritional food a year to feed Boston’s recovering hospital patients. Say goodbye to jello, pudding, and tapioca and say hello to organic produce. " Read about Lindsay Allen's rooftop farm.
Thank you BMC!
Organic gardener, whole-food, plant-based cook. Educator and advocate for healthy, toxin-free living. Wife and mom, sister and daughter. Service-minded Rotarian. Photographer. Storyteller.