Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Aliens and Me

Two weeks ago I was forced into watching The Fourth Kind. OK, maybe not forced since I love horror movies for the most part, but I was slightly persuaded to watch it since I had no desire or intention to ever do so. I should have gone with my gut on that one.

The movie starts out with Milla Jovovich and some psychologist explaining that it is based on true events and real portions of the actual events that were filmed will be shown, as well as the re-creation. I'm already sitting on the sofa thinking I should strike the little "see no evil, hear no evil" monkey pose immediately. Things that are real or could be real freak me out more than your good old fashioned, run of the mill horror movies. Except werewolf movies, which nearly kill me entirely, but that's another story.

Let me start by saying that I have seen The Blair Witch Project and the other fake movies claiming to be real, so I know better than to believe these kinds of things. I do. I really, really do. It's just that I have an overly active imagination and this...belief system. I believe in God. I haven't seen him, met him, talked to him, but I believe in him. It works for me. Therefore, the way I see it anyway,  how can I deny that anything opposite could possibly exist either? Or that there isn't life on other planets? I can't, and I won't because I don't know and I would feel like a hypocrite. I haven't seen or talked to aliens either, but who's to say they aren't out there somewhere? Basically, I'm just an equal opportunity believer, which is good and bad, in cases like this.

The basis of the movie is this (so I don't ruin it for anyone else who never wants to sleep again either)...

There's a small town, Nome, Alaska, where a lot of people have disappeared and have been seeing the same strange, white owl at night. Turns out it's not a white owl at all. It's aliens abducting them and making them believe they've seen an owl so they can continue on with their life. There's a lady who's doing the research on it and things start to get really, super freaky when she trys to get to the bottom of it.

So here I am, watching this with Justin late at night. I am seriously getting scared, like five-year-old-monster-under-the-bed scared. So the movie ends and there is no way in H E Double Hockey Sticks that I'm going to bed. Ever. Justin then puts on a "lighter" alien movie that Dan Aykroyd has created because he is apparently a huge believer in aliens. It's not necessarily scary, but isn't helping my situation. At one point in the movie he says that research (or something) shows that aliens like to visit at 3:33 a.m. I don't know why, it's just their preferred time to mess with us I guess.

I finally try to go to bed. At some point in the night I get up to go to the bathroom. Justin also gets up with the dog. I'm walking out of the bathroom and all I see is this white thing moving towards me. My mind immediately goes to the whole white owl aliens and the following takes place:

I leap, I kid you not, leap straight up into the air and take off running down the hall. I'm moving like a gazelle, half loping, half bounding. I actually yell for my Justin, like the house is on fire or something. One of those crazy banshee type yells. Behind me I hear him, partially awake and confused, say "Babe? Um...babe???" I get to the end of the hall and realize I just freaked out for no real reason at all since he was wearing a white t-shirt. I then pretend to change the setting on the thermostat and walk calmly back to the bedroom. He's standing there staring at me and, as normally as I can without busting into laughter, I explain that it was really, really hot and I had to go change the temperature immediately and, uh, for some reason felt the need for a little midnight jog down the hall. Just when I think I've pulled it off he gives a little laugh and I know I'm busted.

The next night I can't sleep at all. Not one moment of rest comes to me and I have to work the next day. I swear I hear things and I keep waking up everyone, even the dog, so that I'm not alone in my scaredness. I go to work, exhausted, where I then tell my friend, Tiffany, about the adventures I had previously. She busts up. On our weekly call she keeps asking me how I'm doing with my special situation while stifling her laughter. The worst part is that every night for those next two weeks I would wake up somewhere in the magical time frame of 3:30-3:40 a.m. I'm not even exaggerating a little bit. It was like I had set my alarm for that time, that's how exact and frequent it happened. Of course, the time frame alone scared the life right out of me. To top it all off, I would have to pee, but I would be paralyzed in fear so I would then have to wake up the husband or dog so they could acknowledge my fear with me and make sure I returned to the bed without being abducted.

On top of all of that, I was now afraid of Alaska. I wanted to go there one day, never have been, and had this whole cruise idea that I got from some friends, but not now! No way was I going to Alien Land to hang out with pretend owls in the middle of the night and have my mind tampered with!

Then last week my mom and I are on the phone and she tells me she wakes up every night at, you guessed it, 3:33 in the morning. She lives in a remote enough area where I could see these kind of crazy things happening, being more possible, than here in my city life. So then I calmly, and as sanely sounding as possible, try and tell her why she should never, ever wake up then and why.

It's insane, how incredibly sleep deprived and crazy I was. I could have Googled it and calmed myself down sooner, but I didn't dare find out more about it than I should, since in the movie that's exactly what the aliens were ticked off about, this lady and her digging into their abductions. Eventually I did look it up and of course it all came up to be totally bogus, or at least enough for me to be able to sleep.

There's your funny for the day. I've decided I may be past the horror movie stage in my life and I'm pretty much alright with that. Anyone who would like to be terrified of owls and Alaska, this is the movie for you.

What scary movies terrifies you?

Update---> Oops, I did it again. I watched more things on aliens. One day I'll learn my lesson.
The Aliens and Me - Take Two

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The Kindness Chronicles - An overview of your "home"

There is a huge difference between being healthy and being good to yourself.

Being healthy can mean many things, depending on the person. You could be a vegetarian, a low carb-er, a marathon runner, a weight lifter, someone who eats everything but keeps the portions small. The truth is that there are dozens of ways to be healthy, depending on what you believe in, what you were taught, and how much you know about food. In all my research, studying, and reading of health-this and health-that, I have found that no diet or lifestyle works the same for any two people.  Yes, there are ones that are better than others, but that's because they require a lifestyle change, not a drop-the-cookie-and-go-jog-for-a-month change.

I suggest a new approach. While I think a lifestyle change is important to continued success, I think we're going about it all wrong. I see too many people who get mind boggled over the "right" way to be healthy, or the "secret" to losing weight. There isn't one way or one truth.

I've been fortunate enough to study such a wide variety of things that I'm able to put all the bits and pieces together from every angle, rather than just one. I don't like approaching anything with a mentality that there's only one way to do it or that doing it this one way, while ignoring everything else, will get you the results you want. There are too many things to consider. The food you eat, the emotions you have, the life you're living, the sleep you're getting, the amount you move your body during the day, the toxins around you, and the signs your body give you- are all important. It sounds complicated, but I'm going to keep it simple. It's time to change the way we view health and our bodies.

I'm going to do a series of blogs called The Kindness Chronicles. Each one will focus on something different, but all of them will be designed to help you focus on being kinder to your body, understanding what it's trying to tell you, giving you knowledge and insight into the world of food, exercise, and time tested natural remedies.

Most importantly, I want to focus on learning to live a life where you are kind and good to yourself, bottom line.

No more feeling like you're not good enough, thin enough, good looking enough, successful enough. Those days are coming to a close my friends.  I'll still post the good old funny, random, and travel type blogs, but wanted to do something special for a change and really dive into this big, wide, confusing world of health.

Some items I will cover are:
1. Calorie Counting - How to do it once and never again
2. Aromatherapy for better health
3. Releasing toxins in the body
4. Eastern Healing techniques (Gua Sha, Acupuncture, etc.)
5. Cellulite (Yes, you can get rid of it)
6. Foods, the good, the bad and why
7. The story behind grass fed beef and why it's important
8. Various diet systems, what they offer, why, and what you need to know about them
9. Food allergies  - A look into overcoming them through multiple methods
10. Monsanto and the FDA - GMO foods, the Suicide/Terminator seed and how both of these things will change life as you know it, and not for the better.
11. Healing yoga poses
12. If Oprah can talk about it, then so the heck can I... (Maybe)
13. The Seriousness of Sleep

I'll come up with plenty more, but those are all on my mind now. I'm not selling anything or trying to get you to adapt to my lifestyle. I just want you to know for yourself what everything is, does, and how it works.

I was so incredibly mad when I first was learning everything that I saw red on a daily basis. I was furious that no one had thought it would be important to tell me, or my family, or the world for that matter, that half of what we eat/drink/use could kill us tomorrow and that there's plenty of research proving that!  All of that research is just conveniently kept quiet.

Alright, moving on before I launch into that mess. I'll also invite you into my life a little more by giving you a glimpse of what a crazy person like me eats on a regular basis, like spinach and salmon for breakfast. Yes, breakfast.

Tonight I want to give you an overviews and focus on the signs your body is giving you and on the whole idea of taking good care of your "home". The idea of asking yourself the right questions, starting right now.

First, scrap the entire idea you currently have of health and replace it with the mind set of being good to yourself and kind to your body. It is, after all, the only body you get and no matter how many plastic surgeons or scientists there are that can develop a new magic pill, this is the body you are going to be responsible forever. This is the body you occupy in this life and how well it works and how long it lasts is up to you and you alone. There are a lot of things you can reverse, but why get to that point when it's not necessary?

Not to get all deep on you here, but personally I believe we all have a soul and with that I believe our soul is really who we are. Our body just happens to be our storage facility, or "home", where our soul lives. Sometimes I like to tell myself that this - my body - is my home. My house is where I sleep.  I need to take care of my home first since there is no option of getting another one the same way that I can with my house. Buying a house isn't even that easy these days, so imagine how much harder it is to try and get a new body. It's not, it's not even an option. You can never really replace the original working parts.

It's not enough to want to lose weight. You have to want it for the right reasons. You can't do it for anyone else and you shouldn't. If you love yourself just the way you are, don't change. But be honest with yourself. Are you scared of the change, the hard work, the idea that it won't work? Or do you really, truly feel comfortable just as you are? You'll know the truth better than anyone and you'll know what you need to do.

Second, starting tomorrow try approaching everything with the thought of how you will feel, emotionally and physically, after you do whatever it is - eating, drinking, getting frazzled worrying. Don't focus on how much caffeine you need to survive or how much fiber you need that day. Focus on what you just ate or did and how it made you feel. Instead of "How many calories is this?" think "How will I feel after I eat it, mentally and physically?"

Here's a clue: If you require Tums or indigestion anything at all, you're body is desperately trying to tell you it can't handle what you just fed it.  Stomach problems, headaches, gas, and sleepiness after eating are not supposed to be considered normal. Those symptoms you feel are your bodies way of telling you that it's not OK. It needs more or less of something. It needs you to pay attention to it. That is how it communicates with you and the more it needs you to pay attention, the worse things are going to get until you're forced to listen.

Case in point: Before, when I was "normal" and I ate normal things, I had basically zero awareness of my body. I thought everything it did was just, you know, normal. Good, old normal. Advil for the headaches, Pepto for the tummy, etc. That was just life to me. When I started studying the body and testing out what I was learning by changing what I ate, I discovered how wrong I was. I would eat something and get a teeny tiny soar throat or a headache and I could easily pinpoint that it was the food, not my day, by repeating the test over a course of a couple weeks. I was so busy living my normal life before that I never even noticed it.

Let's take for example, gas. Again, we all think it's normal and hilarious. Which it kind of is, but kind of isn't. Did you know you could avoid it entirely? Entirely! Yes, I tested that out too and once you've stopped experiencing it all together for months, you realllllllly don't want to deal with it ever again. It feels odd, like you're broken somehow, and being broken isn't fun.

Let's also consider being tired. You should not need caffeine to get you through the day. What you need is more sleep. This, if you taking nothing else away, is the most important thing in your overall well being. There is nothing, nothing, that can change you better, faster, or more effectively. Your brain literally cannot function without the proper amount of sleep, thus causing everything else in your life to seem more difficult, more depressing. Caffeine is something we should never, ever need. You should never need an alarm clock either. Your body has a natural, built in clock that will wake you up at the right time every day, once a routine has been established and it's getting the right amount of rest. I repeat, if you take nothing else away from this, remember that if there was a "secret" to being thinner, happier, healthier, sleep would be it.

Something to remember, as you're working on yourself or changing old habits, is that it takes time to adapt to the change. You have to remember to ask yourself how you'll feel, if it's the best thing for you, for your "home".  You have to practice paying attention to your body communicating with you. You have to adapt to a new sleep schedule and practice, practice, practice. You DO NOT have to be perfect or expect to get the hang of this overnight and then beat yourself up if you don't. Please, please don't do that. The goal is to be kind to yourself, period.

Alright. Time to get to the business of being kind.

What is one thing that you want to work on, above everything else?

Click here for all posts on The Kindness Chronicles.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Conversations with Strangers

Today was like any other Saturday for me. I got up, went to the gym, and after class was over, headed to my car. The difference in today was when I walked out I met a nice gentleman, named Terry, who noticed my "I Love London" shirt. He proceeded to ask me if I had been there in person, then to tell me all of his travel adventures he's had with his wife, Mary. How they've been to the New England states 3 or 4 times. How St. Martin, in his opinion, is better that St. Thomas. How I must absolutely, positively go to York the next time I'm in England and visit this little hole-in-the-wall pub.

While he spoke I mentally took notes of everything he said. He then told me more about his life, and his wife, who's a teacher, and how they live a good life, but one that can afford them to travel and have these adventures because they buy used cars and live with only what they need. In the span of 30 minutes I knew more about Terry than I do about some people I've known for years and I made myself a new friend. We parted ways and promised we would update each other on our travel journeys whenever we bumped into each other again at the gym.

Funny thing about this, I thought I was in a hurry today. I thought I had a busy day, with no downtime, but the truth of the matter is that I was right where I was suppose to be. I know that because I normally don't leave the gym at the time I did today. Something in my gut said it was time to go, and so I went. Had I stayed I probably wouldn't have met Terry at all.  This moment, this exact conversation, is what I love. On every single trip I've taken I've found people who I can connect with and who leave me a better person after having spent brief moments of time with them. A man in London told me all about Paris and how I must positively, absolutely go there sometime. An adorable women in Zurich came up to me at the grocery store and shopped with me for a little bit, pointing out how to use the scale and what fruits were ripe. A nice lady in India helped me cross the street and spoke to me through her motions, rather than words. This, this is what I love.

It fascinates me how so many of desire to see the world and accept it, learn from it, change because of it. I attribute this to the fact that as adventurers, we all have one major thing in common: We respect each other, the places we're going, and the people we'll meet. We don't have to look the same, act the same, or believe the same things. We just have to be kind to one another.

It really is that simple.

Has a stranger ever had a positive impact on your life?

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Book Reviews: Vampires, Ghosts, and Delirious Love Stories

As much as I love the deep, mind boggling Paulo Coelho type books, I love me some good books that let me get lost within their alternate reality pages even more. How much more interesting the world could be if such things existed! For example, I'm sure you all have heard of the Twilight series and possibly feel the way that my friends and I do: Life as we knew it was interrupted while we voraciously read the books, and then over once there weren't anymore to read. A deep sadness took us. Depression, almost, I would say. Not having anymore Edward and Bella time was devastating.

Since then I have been branching out to see what other books could catch my attention in that same fashion. I have some new favorites which include angels, ghosts and people who possess the power of psychometry. Yet, I still love and will always turn to the vampire books. I'm a vampire kind of girl. Always have been (Go Buffy!). Sorry Jacob fans. Werewolves scare the life right out of me. It all stems from a poor judgement call back in my childhood where I snuck out to watch a werewolf movie, then thought I saw a werewolf and ever since that moment I have been ruined. I can't even stand the insurance commercials where they have a wolf howling in the background. Kills me almost!

So, yeah, I read a bunch of Young Adult books and I'm not a teenager anymore. I really don't know why they even label these books as Young Adult. Everyone I know that reads them is my age or older and we are very much Adult Adult, so let's just get that straight. In fact, reading about teenage love makes me think I'm turning into a Cougar. Or a Bobcat. I think I'm far too young for that, but whatever. Rawr.

I just finished reading Haven by Kristi Cook.

This is my new favorite vampire book. It's a cross between Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and every other supernatural thing possible. Very well done, though. Violet McKenna meets Aiden Gray, a mysterious boy at her new, even more mysterious boarding school. Their past and future depend on the choices they make and ultimately, their love for each other. Will it be able to withstand their destiny? Only time will tell.

There are more books coming in the series so it leaves you hanging on, patiently trying to wait for the next book to come out. I'm not going to lie, I did get a little irritated with Miss Violet. It mostly boils down to my impatience. At this point, after having read so many of these types of books, I always get to the point in the story where I'm like, "Look here, girl-who's-afraid-of-the-vampire-hottie. Get over it. A zillion other women would be A-Okay with that factor. Wouldn't even cause us to flinch. In fact, we would've figured it out a long time ago because we all secretly want to date a vampire." So there you have it. I now get mad at the books I read.

Moving along...

My very, very favorite books collections are:

The Hush, Hush Saga by Becca Fitzpatrick

In the first book in the trilogy, Nora, who's life is in danger, must decide if she can trust Patch, a wayward Fallen Angel who definitely doesn't fall into the good guy category. Will she trust him with her life, and if she does, will he defend it with his? You'll have to read the first two books to find out.

The Fallen Series by Lauren Kate

Luce has seen dark things haunting her, her entire life. When she's sent to a boarding school after a deadly fire she meets Daniel, a strange boy who seems to want nothing to do with her. As her time at the school continues she finds that nothing is as it seems and no one is who she thinks they are. Daniel and Luce share a long past that is ever so slowly revealed. Who is Luce really and why does everyone in heaven want her and Daniel separated forever?
(Spoiler Alert: I think I've got this mystery figured out, as to why Luce and Daniel can't be together. Luce...that could be short for some other name, or taken from perhaps a relative? Read the books and think it over.)

The Touch Series by Laurie Stolarz

Camelia and Ben shares something unusual: The ability to see the future through the power of touch. Ben is an outcast who avoids all human contact because of this, where as Camelia is drawn to see where her abilities lead her, which mostly is dangerous situations thus far. Will their love be able to withstand the dangers that are headed their way? I wish I knew but I don't because this doggone series left off right then and there! I am patiently, but not all that patiently, waiting for the next one to come out.

The Hollow Trilogy by Jessica Verday

Abbey's best friend has died and she's left with an empty, unbearable feeling in her heart. She goes to the cemetery to find solace and there meets a strange, green eyed boy named Caspian. As she spends more time with Caspian she finds that there's something different about him, something untouchable. Little pieces of her friends death start to come to light and she's soon left wondering if it was truly an accident or a malicious murder. My favorite thing about this series- Caspian's personality. Verday gives him a little attitude mixed with humor. I'm always waiting to see what he'll say next.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

"I love you. Remember. They cannot take it."

I'm almost done with this one, but figured I'd throw it in anyway. Delirium has no other worldly beings. It's set in the future, a future without love. A future where love has been labeled a disease and with it a "cure" from it's horrible side effects: daydreaming, laughter, heartache, tears. Lena has only known this world, the love-free world, and can't wait for her eighteenth birthday when she can finally receive the cure. Before that time comes, however, she meets Alex, an invalid. Soon everything she knows is questioned and her life is turned upside down.

I find this book to not only be brilliant and well written, but terribly sad. Books like this, with things that could very well happen in a too controlling society, always get me. I put off reading them because they're too much for me at first, too intensely possible. If you've read Matched you might like this. It's very similar in the sense of a controlled society,  your spouse being chosen for you, everyone blending in for the most part. I'm told The Hunger Games is also very good and a little bit on this path, but I haven't read any of those books...yet.

Anyway, there is a three part series planned for this. The end leaves you hanging, dangling from a cliff. I know this because I cheated and read ahead. Excellent book though. It makes you appreciate all the things that seem so normal, and so difficult, and helps you to realize what life would be like without them.

"Love: A single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That's what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side."

And to tie together all the books, a poem taken from Delirium, which is then taken from "A Child's Walk Home", edited by Cory Levinson.

Mama, mama, help me get home
I'm out in the woods, I am out on my own.
I found me a werewolf, a nasty old mutt
It showed me its teeth and went straight for my gut.

Mama, mama, help me get home
I'm out in the woods, I am out on my own.
I was stopped by a vampire, a rotting old wreck
It showed me its teeth, and went straight for my neck.

Mama, mama, put me to bed
I won't make it home, I'm already half-dead.
I met an Invalid, and fell for his art
He showed me his smile, and went right for my heart.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Review - The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

I read this book a long time ago, but constantly find myself coming back to it. The wisdom it contains in it's pages is something I can always count on, always come back to. Funny thing is, I would say that this book found me rather than the other way around. I was in San Francisco in a little hippie shop and was immediately drawn to the shelf where this book was lying. Before I even opened it I knew I had to have it, knew it would be important to me.

I'm not sure if I would call it religious or spiritual or both, but I think anyone reading it can grasp a deeper understanding of what you already believe in. Each chapter is about something specific like love, work, sorrow and joy. Each chapter is small but incredibly powerful. The depth to which each thought is written is unparalleled. In fact, I really can't even explain how amazing this book is as it truly is something you have to read for yourself. Here, however, is an excerpt so you can get an idea of its amazingness.

Kahlil Gibran on Love...

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden. 

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth. 

All Over Again

Too often we all rush about our day, trying to get this and that done, while never fully grasping how much time we've spent on things that, in the long run, won't make any difference. The small things that slipped by suddenly roar up in front of us, reminding us just how large of an impact they really have in our lives, just how important they really are. Here is a reminder of those small things in life.

If I had my life to live over...

by Erma Bombeck

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained or the sofa faded.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television, and more while watching life.

There would have been more "I love you's". More "I'm sorry's".

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it, live it, and never give it back.

We each have priorities, schedules, lives that we must lead to survive in this crazy, hectic world.  We owe it to ourselves to do the things we love, spend time with the people we care about, and work towards the dreams we cherish. It's time to redirect our precious energy. Take a moment to see where each minute has vanished to and decide for yourself if it was time well spent. This will be different for everyone, but you will know instantly by the way you feel. Trust that feeling and move towards a life with no regrets, that need not be lived again, since it was lived to the fullest the first time around.

What would you do all over again?

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Maintenance: #2

I'm kind of starting to like this little maintenance thing. Like I'm writing you a letter, so to speak, rather than a specific blog. We can get to know each other better and I can keep you updated. I love that.

For example...

Hi everyone. How was your day? Mine was good. Walked the dog, just had some delicious almond butter on an apple (excellent snack, by the way). Anyway, hope your day was good!

See, I love that. OK, I'm just ridiculous sometimes, but I do have some updates for you.

First, they're still trying to fix blogger. One day I hope it will be resolved. For all I know you can't even see any of my posts. Hello? Hello?? I'm kidding, but you never know these days. And to the lovely person who wrote a comment on my War and Peace post, I saw it, but it disappeared before I could say anything. Just wanted to say wow about the radio call in stories, thanks for the kinds words, and hopefully things will be better for the future of the world. I'm counting on it actually.

Second, I have been ridiculously busy lately so I apologize for sending out a zillion posts tonight. This is the one time I found I could do it as the rest of my day didn't go as planned anyway. This doggone day job of mine, keeping me from my blogging! (Hi boss, if you're reading this...love my job. Looooove it. I'm totally kidding about the day job thing...ha...ha...um...)

I have about 100 half way finished posts that I'm working on for you.  Recipes, health and wellness/nutrition info,  more funny friend stories, travel information, all kinds of good things coming your way. I know I owe you the rest of the India info and I promise I'm getting there. On that note, I have some fun trips coming up this summer. New York, Denmark, France and Ireland. That's the plan anyway. Very, very excited. My friends in these places...and everywhere actually...if you have any recommendations of places/things to see or do, I'm all ears.

Also, if ever there is something specific you want to know about, let me know. If I have information on it, I will be sure to address it. Also, anytime I'm writing about something like yoga, skin care products, food tips, etc., I assure you I have put them to the test on me first.  I've always felt like I should know how something works (if I can) before I run off and tell someone to try it. I stand by that and will always inform you if ever I'm recommending something that I haven't tried myself.

I think that sums up everything. I'll bust a move on a couple more posts tonight and then I will aim for some sleep.

Good night, or good morning!  (depending where you are)

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It's a Beautiful Life

This poem is inspired by the short clip I recently posted, It's a Beautiful Day and I can't See it.

It's a Beautiful Life

It's a beautiful day, but I can't see it
Eyes shut tight
That keep in secrets
I see no colors
See no sights
All I sense is shifting light

It's a beautiful song, but I can't hear it
Mouths move silent
Though I'm near them
Hear no laughter
Hear no songs
This silence, I hear all alone

It's a beautiful day, but I can't praise it
Sunlight streaming
I can't explain it
Can't rejoice
I can't jump in
My words are caught and stuck within

It's a beautiful day, I can't enjoy it
Frozen limbs
No longer function
I can't run circles
Can't jump high
I sit and watch the world pass by

It's a beautiful life, I know, I feel it
Deep inside
I sense it's stillness
Sense the laughter
Sense the light
I sense the things you shut out tight

This beautiful life, get up and live it
Sacred moments
Precious seconds
Don't sit idly
The time is here
Don't let these chances disappear

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Movie Review - Stress: Portrait of a Killer

This week at work my fellow co-workers and I started talking about stress. How interesting it is, with all of the things it does to you, your body, your life in general. It's an epidemic that we all know about, yet we are never able to break free of it's grasp, even knowing the horrible things it can do to us.

Where I work there is such a thing as a Stress Leave of Absence. Yes, a break from work because work might just in fact be killing you. That tells you something about my day life, doesn't it?

We all know stress is bad for us, but how bad is it really? And where does it stem from? I happened to have recently seen a documentary on it called Stress: Portrait of a Killer, that answers those very questions. The documentary is based on research by various professors, but one in particular named Robert Sapolsky. He has been studying baboon behaviors for over three decades and has made many interesting discoveries, one more so than the others.

The normal indicators of stress are of course work, peer, and relationship pressure. Each one having their own measurable effects on us, yet work stress seeming to be the most disastrous of all for our health.

Think about it. How many of you fear going into work every day? Or are afraid of your boss and what they might throw at you next? You don't even have to be in the office to start feeling stress itself creeping up on you, giving you a headache, making your shoulders hunch up and hurt. It turns out that the most stressed people in the world are those that are the workers, while the least stressed people are those that are the ones who make the decisions, or the bosses. Your hierarchy in the company you work for directly affects how stressed out you'll be. The higher up you are, the better, while the lower down you are, the worse off you'll be. The workers are the ones that have to make the ideas and goals of a company happen, the ideas that the bosses are constantly thinking up. There is a big difference between an idea and making that idea happen in a day to day setting.

Not only does stress cause heart attacks, anxiety, depression and insomnia, there is also a direct link between stress and belly fat. That little pudge around your midsection is not because you are somehow doing your crunches wrong. No, your body purposely stores fat there when you get stressed out. The problem with our society, America to be specific, is that we do not value things that are stress relieving.

In most of Europe they eat dinner together as a family still, which takes a good two hours at least to wind down and relax. They have mid-day breaks for tea, naps, or just extra long lunches. They value sitting back and taking their time at a lot of things we rush through. This is just one of the many, many reasons I love Europe. In the good old US of A we admire the people who can multitask, who can get more done with less, who basically run themselves into the ground. We do not value those who take the time to stop and smell the flowers. In fact, we think they're lazy.

What Professor Sapolsky found was that stress actually affects us long before we see the signs of it. That ulcer you have- it didn't just happen over night. It's been building up in your poor little body for a very, very long time. That's why, when you do finally have something happen, it's a long road back to a healthy you. The very interesting thing that he discovered about stress, however, was accidental.
He had been studying this one group of baboons for years and one year when he went back to spend some time with them he found that many of them had died as they had found rotten meat in a trash can near their habitat. However, only the leaders of the pack - the bosses - ended up dying. The workers had no chance of getting any food as the bosses were, of course, in charge and kept them back while they pigged out. They had no idea their selfishness was actually saving the lives of the others.

Professor Sapolsky thought his research would end with that one group due to the deaths. What a surprise to him to find years later that the baboon group of workers, who had survived, were thriving and happy. Happy! All the years prior the workers showed symptoms of intense stress, unhappiness, anger at being at the bottom of the ladder. Now they all work together in the habitat, fight less, and appear to have very limited stress. They are essentially doing better than they ever did with the head honchos bossing them around.


I'm not saying we all go poison our bosses food, no, no. I'm just saying how interesting that nature took care of itself like that and all the workers are just fine. Better, actually. How very interesting indeed.

The most important thing to take away from this, other than Professor Sapolsky's awesome 60's hairdo, is that if our culture wants to shift, wants to escape the unnecessary aches and pains of stress, we must change what we value. We must learn to let things go. Learn to understand that tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, will all have new tasks with new things to do. Work has no ending. It will always be there which means there is no point in ruining ourselves for something that is going to change next month anyway.

The trick is getting our bosses to agree, but, we can do it. I would say that anyone reading this is someone who has an increased sense of awareness. There are more and more of us springing up all over the place and we can make a difference. My old boss was open minded enough to hear me out on yoga. Then he let me talk about life coaching, then nutrition, and before you know it I found out he was just like me. I would never have known that if I hadn't tried to be myself and believe what I believe, without holding back for fear that the corporate world would judge me. I fully believe there are people just like that all over, but the work place as we know it has taught us to be boring, to blend in, to be "just like everyone else" so we can be accepted. I say let's shake that idea up. Poisoning them is not an option- I repeat, not an option, but we can help them to see other ways.

Most importantly, take it upon yourself to slow down. This is my Be the Best theory. You take care of you, first and foremost. Leave work when you're supposed to. Sleep in on the weekends. Take some deep breaths and let the world slip away. You can be an amazing multi-tasker as well as an amazing  meditator, an amazing nap taker, an amazing slower paced you. The fact of the matter is your overall health and well being does, indeed, depend on it. You are in control of your destiny. Make it a beautiful, stress free one.

What stresses you out?

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Maintenance: #1

Yesterday I went on here to find that my most recent post, "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall", had disappeared, along with some new drafts I wrote up. I then promptly freaked out like any good, sane writer would after they'd just been hit with amazing inspiration and had not ever, ever thought of saving the blog anywhere else since it never occurred to them that it would vanish into thin air. Then, to further heighten my panic, I checked with my friends to see if they had gotten an email copy, if it even existed, or if I was just crazy and dreamt everything up. So, Nichole and Matt - Thank you for your help. Everyone else, feel free to laugh at me now because they already did. 
My words exactly!

Turns out blogger is broken or having issues of some kind, so I apologize if you got a link that took you nowhere. Apparently they're working on it, but me and my OCD just wanted to fill you in on that little bit of info and apologize for it's weirdness. When they re-post it, it may send you another link or not...no idea, so maybe check back in a day or two. Seriously, beats me at this point. I do hope you like the blog. It was one of those moments when the words came without me really even trying, and those instances are precious in any writers life. There was no way I was going to be able to duplicate it.

I have a feeling this may not be the only time, therefore I have labeled this as #1 in preparation for technology to freak out on me sometime again in the future. 

That being said, again, thank you all for your patience and understanding. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate all of you for reading my blog. I may not be Edgar Allen Poe or Elizabeth Gilbert, but I get to live out my dream of being a writer on here with you. THANK YOU.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Without You

When I was little I, like so many children out there, wanted to be a lot of different things. A teacher, singer, pianist, dog trainer, tornado chaser, tiger trainer, architect, interpreter for the deaf, tattoo shop manager, pirate, and the wife of MacGyver. You know, the usual.  No matter what my crazy, new idea was my mom and gramma always believed in me.

My mom had to raise me on her own since my dad had M.S. and died many years earlier. I know it had to have been tough at times, but she always did everything she could for me. She put me first and made me the priority in her life. I was a little rambunctious and wild as a kid and I'm sure, caused her much stress. I "ran away" once on accident. In my own defense, I didn't know I was running away. I thought I was saving my dog who had just escaped from our yard. I was five and I was on a rescue mission.

One time I tried to sell everything in our spare garage at a garage sale that we weren't actually having. It would have been very successful if the customers hadn't realized I was seven and running it on my own. Then there was the time I tried to hit her guy friend over the head with a frying pan. Yes...yes, a frying pan. You have to understand, I have always known it's my job to take care of my mom, who looks like a cross between Scarlett O'Hara and Mary Tyler Moore. She's beautiful. Just ridiculously beautiful. Over the years men have tried to go out with her, but even after all these years she's never gone on one date. If ever there were soul mates, it was my mom and dad. That being said, I took it upon myself to take out anyone I didn't like that was trying to be more than a friend and not paying attention to that particular rule...and I just didn't like this one guy who was a long time family friend, but too friendly for my taste. That's all I'm saying. She stopped me, but I tried.

This is so me except not a cat, obviously.
She is also an excellent spider killer. I cannot tell you how many times we would have screaming matches trying to kill those things. I would scream, then she would scream, then we'd both scream. Eventually after everyone, including the spider, was deaf, she would kill it. 

When I was 16 and had my first job she taught me the hard lesson of taking care of myself. I had to pay for the normal things: car insurance, gas, fun stuff I wanted, but then I had to pay for more grown up things like medical insurance and life insurance. For a long time there not only was I mad about that, but I was also pretty sure she might be out to get me. I mean really, what teenager has life insurance policies? Clearly she wasn't, but it did make me grow up fast. She would always tell me that it was up to me to take care of myself, that I should never rely on anyone to take care of me because you never know what could happen in life. They could die, leave, things could change, but as long as I had my own back I was good. Best advice ever mom, thank you.

My gramma is the most amazing woman I know. Not to make my mom seem any less important, but gramma's have wisdom that no one can have until they've become a gramma themselves. She is the most supportive, smart, funny and strong person I know. I honestly do not know what I will do when the day comes that I have to live without her. 

When I was 18 I came home from a vacation with my first tattoo. My mom freaked out. My gramma told me she thought it was awesome, which basically sums her up pretty well. My grandparents house was a place for me to play, to create, to make whatever come true that I was imagining. She would let me tear her living room apart and build forts. She's the one who taught me how to bake German pancakes and Kuchen and this amazing chocolate cake that she made for everyone's birthday. She is, and always will be, very important to me.

I also have a lot of friends who are mothers, whether it be of people or animals, and every single one of them is amazing. I am only a dog mom right now, but I learn important lessons from all my friends with human children for my future years of being a mom. I don't know how you all do it, but you do and you do it so well. Your kids are blessed to have you in their lives and I am blessed to know and learn from you. Without all of you, family and friends, I wouldn't be who I am.

Now that I've written this my mom will probably kill me, but hey, I love her and she needs to be recognized.  Good thing for me the most advanced technology she has is a cell phone and will most likely never see this. Whew. 

Happy Mother's Day everyone! I hope you take time to recognize everyone important in your life. 

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Friday, May 6, 2011

It's a Beautiful Day and I can't See it

Ever have something that strikes you as so amazingly beautiful and touching you just have to share it with everyone you know immediately? That is exactly what I experienced when I saw this video five minutes ago. It makes you re-think a lot of things. So incredibly touching in a tiny time of two minutes. 

It reminded me of a company Justin's friend works for, Foundation for Blind Children. Please check them out if you have a chance. They are a truly great organization and any and all support will make a huge difference to them.

I loved the theme song as well and located the artist and video for you, below. Thanks to Tammy for sharing this on Facebook!

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Wealth of Knowledge

I promised this a while back and wanted to be true to my word and provide you with the information of some truly fantastic teachers and healers.

I fully believe in giving credit where credit is due and a lot of credit goes to these wonderful people for everything they have taught me. Here are some of my teachers blogs and/or web sites that are really quite amazing and wonderful. I hope you find as much wisdom in them as I do.

Mary Bruce
Mary is the amazing, wonderful, extremely talented woman who taught me yoga. My journey into health and wellness started with her and I hope one day to continue with more of her fantastic teachings. She is the reason I can hold plank forever, and ever, and ever. Or a few minutes at least.  She is simply fantastic and an incredible person to study with. I could say a million great things about her if I had the time and space on this blog.

Dr. William Franklin
William is a genius, basically. He has a wealth of knowledge on all things exercise related, is a Naturopathic doctor, and also has an overall wonderful outlook on the workings of the inner mind and how we think. His class was one of my very favorites because of the way he was able to make me see things differently. Plus, he used quotes in all his presentations and I love quotes. He also taught me the correct way to do a push up and a renegade row, and I must say I'm better than some of the guys at my gym. 

Chef Rachel
Rachel is an incredibly talented chef who has written some of my very, very favorite cookbooks. I kid you not, her cooking just makes me feel better. I would go to class and be tired, feel lousy, and not really want to do anything after a long day of work and one meal later (of her amazing creations) I was good to go!  All of her recipes are gluten free and based mainly on the Paleo lifestyle (protein, veggies, fruits). The Garden of Eating has fantastic recipes for all meals, all seasons, everything. It has cooking tips and tricks as well. Fear not, sweet toothed friends, as she has also written The Ice Dream Cookbook which has oh-so yummy dessert recipes.

Don Matesz
Don is an acupuncturist, a Holistic Practitioner, and has his Masters in Oriental Medicine. I thoroughly enjoyed his classes. He taught me amazing things, like how to heal yourself naturally with foods, how fasting works in the body, and what resistance training vs. cardio training is all about. He also saved me from a virus that no one, not one of my Western docs, could figure out for 18 months of my then miserable life. I couldn't eat, life was horrible, food hated me and I hated it. Don fixed me up with some Chinese herbs and I've never had a problem since. 

Find his blog here.

Melanie Jackson
Melanie is the guru of all things Ayurvedic.  You need to know what Kapha, Pitta, and Vata are really all about? She's your girl. She is also the one who taught me all about skin care as she originally designed the aesthetics program at my sister school, the Southwest Institute of Natural Aesthetics (SWINA). Melanie is a truly lovely person, inside and out.


Linda Bennett
Linda is one of my very favorites. She's is a fantastic Life Coach and Hypnotherapist. I was never into the hypnotherapy thing and never even thought I could be hypnotized, but thanks to Linda I now see it in a whole new light and yes, I've even been hypnotized a few times. Plus, she life coached the heck out of me one day and by doing so, helped me figure a lot of things out in my life. To put it lightly, she has mad skills. 

Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA)
Of course I can't forget about my wonderful school! This is where my path lead me several years back. It's a very different type of school, but that's exactly why I like it. I would go, from my everyday Corporate America job, to school and everything would be better, just like that. I went in as myself and came out as a much better version of me, or so I think anyway. SWIHA has left me with not only a wealth of knowledge, but AMAZING friends. Here's what I love from it, aside from the obvious:

- You work on you while you learn how to heal other people. A huge bonus in itself. 
- There's art work on every single wall, everywhere you go.
- There was a gentleman who would play his keyboard in the halls before night classes would begin. Not sure if he's still there but that was one of the highlights of my day, listening to the music filter through the school.
- The student clinics offer massages and facials that are amazing and as a student you get a heck of a discount (I will probably go back to school just for that reason, I kid you not).
- Did I mention the friendships? I met my lovely and talented friend from Japan at school. How awesome is that? People from all over the world come here to learn. I'm pretty proud about that fact.
- I still talk to all of my teachers. I can reach out to any one of them if I need them and they'll be there. 

If you have any questions, let me know!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Two Cents on War and Peace

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." - Mahatma Gandhi    (Something to ponder)

Let me preface this by saying I'm not a political person at all. I don't watch the news, read the paper, nothing. This is all just ideas running through my head. Let me also say I hate, loath, and despise arguing with people over politics. So please, take this as me trying to work through thoughts in my head. I'm trying to be open minded and still respectful of everyone.

I have friends and family that have served in various branches of the government protecting us all at one time or another, and I appreciate EVERYTHING they do. I fully admit I don't have the courage to join up, go to some other country and live in dirt and dust while trying to kill people who have done us wrong.  I don't have the courage and I could never do it anyway. I kill spiders and scorpions and that's where it ends for me. I'm not even good at that.

On a friends Facebook post I saw that someone had written "Death should never be celebrated but, at best, mourned as a necessary evil." That I understand. That line stood out to me since that was what I had been thinking about today. Murder is murder, plain and simple, right? Whether we are righting a wrong, getting justice or revenge, it still boils down to the same thing in the end, so morally I wasn't sure what to think of the Osama news and us throwing parties.

We were all told he's the bad guy and that the bad guy should be killed. I just don't like the idea of celebrating it the way we are.  I'm trying to be fair though, and I'm thinking that if someone hurt a family member of mine I would probably want to see them pay in some way or another. I don't even like admitting that I feel that way, but I do, yet I don't think I could ever kill someone and then celebrate my taking of another persons life.  I would still feel bad about it. I might be able to beat them up really good and then celebrate though...I honestly don't know, I'm just saying there are different levels of right and wrong and for me murder plus parties is on the wrong list. Let it be known I am in no way putting down the person who got him, I'm just trying to compare. I know it's his job to do this exact thing and in that respect, he should be proud. He did exactly what he was supposed to for his country.

Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy living in the good old US of A and I appreciate everything we have here, but the one thing my travels have taught me is that (at least where I've been, which is all mostly peaceful places) people are all basically the same. We are all scared. We all have hopes and dreams. We all make mistakes and act like idiots sometimes. We are, essentially, all human. But...with that aside, I have mixed thoughts for other reasons.

First, I never know what to believe, period. The news is more opinion than fact and even more often fiction than anything else. How many times have we seen news stories contradict each other? I'm pretty sure that happens every day. I never, ever, ever know what to think of our government. Is it all lies? I mean it certainly seems that way sometimes. We know for a fact a lot of things they've told us were bologna, so when can we ever really trust anyone to give us the plain and simple truth? And why should we trust that they will? This all boils down to my "no on actually knows anything" theory about basically every big thing that we all get riled up over. To me it's all like rumors. Until I hear it with my own ears from that very person, why should I believe anything else? It might be interesting, but I don't necessarily want to bet the bank on it.

Second, back to me being anti-politics. I don't like arguing with people over what is or what isn't, when none of us actually know because we're not the ones pulling the strings. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle of the idea where there should be no war and additionally, there should be no peace. Nothing can be entire because it would then be perfect and perfect doesn't exist. What I do lean towards is everybody (and I do mean everybody) minding their own business. By that I mean that each country should keep to themselves and not worry about everyone else, unless of course they genuinely need help. Who's to say our way is the right way? For us, maybe it is. Heck, maybe it's not! We get things wrong all the time. All. The. Time. Yet we like to make everyone think the way we do, do the things the way we do, believe the way we do. I know that's an impossible thought, but a thought none the less. I would like to think money and power won't control the world one day as well, but there goes me and my thinking again.

My big issue is this: When you really consider it, all politics do are make us pick sides against each other. Let me repeat that...pick sides against each other. "I'm right, you're wrong, no I'm not, yes you are, blah blah blah." Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we allow ourselves to waste time arguing with our friends and family over these things? Why do we have to be right all the time? United States of America, correct? Not Divided-because-we-argue-about-everything States of America.

I'm still struggling with the idea of us dancing in the streets after we've murdered someone. I feel like we might be asking for trouble and quite frankly, haven't we had enough? I certainly don't want any more mothers losing their sons and daughters to some new battle. I don't want us going to some other country and killing a bunch of kind, innocent people that just so happen to live there. I think of it like this: How many of us here in the USA are all just living our lives, period? And if some other country came and tried to take us down many, many of us good and innocent bystanders would probably die. It's the same in other countries as well. We have to be fair about that at least.

I still, and probably always will, struggle with the idea of lies and misinformation. I have a hard time believing anything the government tells us anymore. A few years back I watched a 9/11 documentary which made me question everything about 9/11. Everything. Maybe it was movie magic, but it made me second guess what I had been told. I won't go into that because I'll be here all night, but it made me wonder about a heck of a lot of things.  Now,  I'm not trying to freak everyone out, but I'm an equal opportunity believer. By that I mean that I like to give everything a serious amount of consideration while trying to push my emotions aside so that I think clearly rather than react emotionally. This doesn't always work, but I try as much as I can.

Now that I've written a small novel and rambled a little bit, I must admit that I feel a little better. So thank you for putting up with me. I'll probably never talk about politics again since it's really not my thing, but just needed to throw this out there in the mix of everything everyone else is saying and deal with it in the one way I really know how, which is writing.

I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that all of you have a good night and happy dreams. I mostly hope that at some point our world finds a way of working with, rather than against, each other.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Quotes by Tyler Shields

I found this video recently and thought it was very interesting. Dark, but artistic and deep. The quotes are what really got me. Here are my favorites:

Can you remember yourself before you were scared of life?

Love is like breathing. You have to let it in to give it out.

What good is armor if you never take it off?

All of your imperfections are what make you perfect.

The most important person you need to know is yourself.