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Archive for August, 2012

image courtesy of Microsoft

Here’s a story of how I became a vegan.

Let me begin by saying that I am in no means making a political statement or trying to convince others to eat the way I eat.   I believe people are smart enough to do their own research, figure out what works for their bodies and go from there.    Life is hard enough without arguing over food —  unless of course the argument is about who’s going to get that last, juicy piece of watermelon!

I also need to say that I believe that there are no coincidences, so if a person, situation or event comes into my life, there might be something there for me to learn.

That being said, I happened to be off work early enough one hot, humid June afternoon to watch the Dr. Oz show.   Why I turned on this show I do not know. I tend to avoid the various shows with doctors and psychologists, preferring instead to fill my mind with useless junk like what housewives in various cities are doing.   But turn on Dr. Oz I did.  The guest that day was Dr. Joel Fuhrman.    I was intrigued enough with what he had to say that I used my recent iTunes gift certificate to purchase his book,  “Eat to Live.”

Dr. Fuhrman advocates a low-oil, no-salt, vegan diet with lots and lots of vegetables – a pound of raw veggies and a pound of cooked veggies a day.  Lots of fruit too.  Since I love vegetables, I thought this might be the program for me.  I also liked the idea of being able to eat a lot.

Now is the time to admit that I have a bit of a food addiction.  I eat when I’m stressed.  I eat when I’m upset.  I eat when I’m bored or tired.  Get me started on sugar or potato chips, and trouble lies ahead.    So the idea of being able to eat as much as I want (granted, of kale, not cookies) made me very happy.

Though you can eat a lot, Dr. Fuhrman does not advocate stuffing yourself.  (Darn!)  The idea is to learn what true hunger feels like, and then eat nutrient-dense foods to satisfy that hunger.

Apparently people have lost a lot of weight following his plan, and often fairly quickly. According to his index of what I should weigh,  I have about 20 pounds to lose, but those 20 pounds have been with me for quite awhile (as in 30 years).

So, now to continue with the “no coincidences” thread.    About the time I discovered Eat to Live, my dad called to say he had a large, cancerous polyp in his colon.   The doctors were not able to remove it all during the colonoscopy, so he needed to see a surgeon.   The following weeks revealed some good things (the type of cancer was slow-growing so he should be okay) and some not-so-good things (my grandmother and great-grandfather both had colon cancer; my dad almost died from a surgical boo-boo).

Anyways, I figured this was a nice message from the Universe that I should pay attention to all that extra fat I was so attached to ingesting.  Cleaning up my diet might not stop me from getting cancer, but it couldn’t hurt me, either.

So I’ve been vegan for about two months now.  I sometimes miss cheese and eggs.   At first, I really missed eating my usual amounts of bread and the ease of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on those evenings when I’m too tired to cook.     Surprisingly, I don’t miss things like ice cream and yogurt so much, but only because there are very easy substitutions. Frozen bananas blended with a bit of non-dairy milk are delicious!   There are all kinds of websites and cookbooks for making delicious smoothies that keep me on track when I’m wanting something sweet.  And of course there’s plain old fruit that often hits the spot.

I feel a lot better, though I haven’t lost weight.  The reason why is the food addiction.  I haven’t conquered it by any means,  I’ve just subbed almonds and dates for cookies.  The good news is that I haven’t gained weight either.

So that’s my story of how I became a vegan.   I still need to cut my sugar consumption (all those dates have lots of sugar

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My garden is full of butterflies!

In other news, I started this blog as a writing exercise, though these past few months, I find I’ve been quite the couch potato.

Some big things have happened recently, which I should write more about. But for now, just a list:

1. DaddyNell went in for minor surgery earlier this month. Something went terribly wrong and he almost died. He’s still at a rehab facility but should be coming home shortly.

2. My dog Nanaline has had some health challenges and is starting to have trouble walking.

3. I became a vegan. It wasn’t such a stretch for me since I’ve been vegetarian for about 25 years. However the real test will occur when I travel next month.

4. I told my boss I was leaving my job in April. That’s actually a very big step for me, since I don’t know where I’ll end up after my Camino. But I am trusting that I will find the right place to live and soulful employment.

So, like the butterflies in my garden, I am free to fly away …

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NOT the winning ticket

First off:  I did NOT win the $320 million PowerBall lottery.    But I had an enlightening time trying.

Normally, I don’t play the lottery.  I’m not against lotteries, per se;  it’s just the statistics are not in my favor so I don’t  bother.

But after reading an article about a hometown accountant who won $1 million last week, I thought I’d give it a shot.   The winner (who got five balls right)  said he had always imagined he would win the lottery one day.

Talk about the power of positive thinking!

I told myself that if this gentleman could win, maybe I could, too.  Why not?    Of course that meant that if I wanted to win, I had to play.   So last night, I  marched down the street to the convenience store and bought myself a ticket.    The big question was whether to choose my own numbers or to let the computer generate them.  I opted to go with the computer; I figured if I was destined to win, then the computer would know that and I’d get those magical numbers assigned to my ticket.   Plus, I don’t really have any lucky or special numbers anyway.

The ticket generated great numbers for me: 02 12 16 32 36 06.  I loved them!  They just looked like winning numbers, though to be honest, what would I know?

I held on tightly to my ticket during the walk home, on the off chance that some of the other folks visiting the little store would realize that I was the one with the winning ticket, not them.    I placed the ticket where I would remember to check the numbers first thing this morning.    The 11 p.m. announcement was past my bedtime and if I stayed up to find out I’d won, then I’d be up the rest of the night.

The ticket in a safe place, and the alarm clock set for 5 a.m.,  I settled into a chair, pulled out my journal, and began writing.  What would I do if I won the lottery?   The announced payout, if taken in one lump sum, was about $200 million.   Of course I would take it in one lump sum!

Now that I had some idea of what I would win, how would I spend all that money?

First, I’d quit my job.

I’d pay off my house, and finish the renovations/repairs that still need to be done.   That way, if I wanted to move and sell the house, it would be finished for the next owner.

I’d get my Ford F-150 truck tuned up and painted.  I only use this truck for hauling, but it is definitely past time for some TLC.

I’d buy my mom two new tires for her car.   I’d also set up some kind of fund where she could have some extra money available to her if she needed or wanted it.   My dad doesn’t need financial assistance, but I could buy him some really nice wine!

And while I was thinking of others, I’d give money to  local animal shelters and to one specific animal rescue group.  I’d give a little extra so they would have the money to help with the feral population in my neighborhood.  I’d give money to the church I attend sometimes, and to the local homeless shelters.

I’d set up some sort of foundation where I could make yearly donations to various causes.    I’d look into ways to promote random, anonymous acts of kindness.   I’d increase my support of programs designed to help at-risk youth.

Now, back to me:  I’d buy a Vitamix and a food dehydrator.  I would look into having a cleaning and lawn service to do the work when I don’t have the time or the desire.

I would travel more. I’d finish purchasing my supplies for the Camino and I’d buy my first-class plane ticket as soon as tickets for May are available for purchase.

I would begin looking for locations for my mini-farm/b&b, then I’d find a team of people to work with me on this endeavor.   I might also upgrade my home computer.  Perhaps buy a new outfit or two.

And then what?  Hm… my mind went blank.  That’s about all I want right now.  I went to bed all warm and glowing.

Then morning came and I turned on the news.  There was a winner and it was not me.  Sighing, I headed out the door to walk the dog.  Good thing I hadn’t called in my resignation last night!

This little exercise made me realize I’m pretty happy with most things in my life.  Having a boatload of money, or heck, even a canoe-load of cash,  would allow me to finish off some projects, be more generous, and travel more.  It would also allow me to fearlessly pursue my dreams.

So maybe I play the lottery again, or maybe I don’t.  But I’m open to receiving good wherever the source.

What about you?  How would you spend $200 million?

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image courtesy of Microsoft

I took off a few days last week, determined to be lazy. After all, it’s the middle of summer and hot, I’m not going anywhere on vacation and I’m flat-out unmotivated. If ever there were a time I should be allowed to be lazy, wouldn’t now be it?

Apparently not.

I was doing my best to just hang out, read some, and watch a little Olympics … But then I started noticing the ants. Hundreds of them. Around my dog’s food bowl. ACK!

So I picked up the dog bowl, threw out the remaining kibble and washed the bowl vigorously. I took the mat upon which the bowl sits outside and washed that down too. Then I mopped the kitchen floor using an industrial-strength cleaner.  Ants gone. Phew! I could go back to being a bum.

Later, I went back into the kitchen to get some water, and what do my eyes behold but more ants around the dog bowl!  Mind you, this was a clean dog bowl that had no food in it.  On the clean mat which had been dried in the hot, baking sun.  Why were these ants still coming in and hanging out in that one area? DOUBLE ACK!

I am not proud to admit this, but I got out the vacuum and proceeded to vacuum  up the ants. (My sincere apologies to all the little ants whose death I caused.)    Problem solved!

Until the next time I went in the kitchen and saw hundreds more ants,  marching around the dog bowl and mat.   Out came the vacuum and the mop.  Vacuum, rinse, repeat.    Several times.  Until I finally realized that those ants were there to tell me something.

So I pulled out my trusty Animal Speak by Ted Andrews, and looked up the meaning of ant.   I knew a little of what I would find, mainly that ants are industrious.   Great!  Just when I want to be lazy, I get a sign saying I need to work hard.  Is the world not fair???

After a mini-tantrum justifying my absolute need to be lazy, I read on to find that an ant totem can show up to help one recreate one’s life from the ground up.  Ah, now that’s more like it!

I’m currently  exploring ways to make money out of my passions, and to live life from a place of joy rather than one of  fear.  And I’m starting to publicly declare that I will leave my job in April, a week or two before I walk my Camino.    That’s a very scary thing for me to say, much less do, since I’m not sure how I’ll make money once I’m back.    But, hey, ant has come to help me out!

The ant totem also can help one’s work be of highest service to all.   Ant may help one realize that if the effort is true, the results will come; all one has to do is release attachments to those results and be patient.

Confession time: I’m not very patient.  When I decide I want to do something, I want results right then.  Forget that it might have taken me years to create a problem, I want it solved in a day.    And I tend to think that the very things that bring me joy (gardening, cooking, working with the earth and animals) are just a tad selfish.  So I really need ant energy to show me how I can realign my hobbies into a soulful career that is of service to others and the earth, and to be patient with the outcome, knowing that all roads lead to …  something.   In other words, enjoy the journey and don’t worry so much about the destination.

So I’ve been calling on the ant totem to help me with these situations.  And wouldn’t you know that, as of last Sunday, when I walk by the dog bowl, there are no ants?

Now to find out the meaning of that roach hanging out outside by the back door …

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