To Find Balance

Last night I watched a documentary that spoke to me in too many ways to count. No Impact Man follows a family of three in New York City, as they venture out to consume less, and produce ideally no waste- for a year. Not only was it moving in the environmentalism aspect, but what stood out to me was the message about Community, Family and having a relationship with the Earth beneath our feet.

When Colin Beavan spoke about community, he stressed the importance of it. The lack of community our society has developed is truly linked to sickness, pollution, poor diet, disease and an overall disconnect. It seems that we are farthest away from the things closest to our being- to our very physical location. If you can tell me you know and could rely on your neighbors for anything, I’d say good for you; you’re probably above average. If you can tell me you take part in community events, community gatherings, efforts and projects, I’d say good for you; you’re working towards the heart of the issue.

Criticism hit hard as Beavan’s family began this journey, with many critics saying things like “The Year of no Toilet Paper, but Plenty of Ass.” His response; why does it have to be critical- how about this?

“The year I lost 20lbs. without going to the gym once. Or the year we didn’t watch TV and became much better parents as a result. Or the year we ate locally and seasonally and it ended up reversing my wife’s prediabetic condition.”

Forget analyzing why someone is doing something, accept that they’re doing it and learn to be humbled by their eagerness to grow with an open mind- maybe even grow to take on that way of thinking yourself.

I think within our communities we have become so disconnected from one another that, like Beavan says, we have no one to hold us accountable for our actions. We think I’ll recycle, I’ll eat more veggies, I’ll walk instead of the bus. These things aren’t enough- it needs to start as a front, a front beginning with an entire community. Though focused on diet, Gene Stone in Forks over Knives says,

“Consider this: If the entire U.S. population were to adopt a plant-based diet for just one day, the nation would conserve the following resources*: • 100 billion gallons of drinking water, enough for every person in every home in New England for nearly four months • 1.5 billion pounds of crops, enough to feed the population of New Mexico for over a year • 70 million gallons of gasoline, enough to fuel every car in Canada and Mexico • 33 tons of antibiotics.”

Now this is just to highlight the importance of what Beavan had done. The documentary hardly touches on the fact that with his ‘environmentally conscious’ meals & product consumption, they were able to reverse his wife’s pre-diabetic condition; on diet and consumption alone. How do these things not register with people?! They are stone. cold. facts.

“Unfortunately, the link between diet and health is still not well understood by many doctors, who are not required to take courses on nutrition in school, and who therefore rely on pills and procedures to treat patients.” -Gene Stone; Forks Over Knives

These things motivate me. They make me want to bring the message into the lives of others. I’m only one person, I have only but two hands- but the changes I wish to bring with them, that’s on me. Beavan speaks about the relationship he was able to cultivate with the Earth through this year of sustainability. He said it took that year of “going without” to create an environment for him to foster a relationship between himself and the very dirt he walks on. Though every square inch may be covered with sidewalks and buildings, he fosters this relationship through work in a community garden. Something I will be blessed to work among this coming Summer.

Fostering a relationship with the Earth is a healing journey. Touch the dirt, understand the potentials it holds. Fathom the power of elements and what the could provide for humankind, should we turn our ignorant minds to the possibilities. Now think, with this dirt alone I can foster nourishment for myself and my family, with this dirt, sunlight and water; I can be humbled. 

I have struggled to find humbling thoughts while stuck at this job, in this cubicle, in this ghetto town so full of everything but community. I have struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel, to see my path clear or to understand how I truly will accomplish my goals. I fight every day to push through- despite weary hearts from Family Members, despite “knowing better,” I have to find the balance between reality and the fast-track to my dreams. When I do find this, it is my hope that I will be humbled by my progress and continue to move forward in a way that will put pride on the faces of my Family Members, and calm worries they might have had about my decisions. I want 100% support, but perhaps by not having it; this will propel me forward that much faster to success- that is the hope.

Ask yourself, is it possible to have a good life, without wasting so much?

To Heal

Today marks day 2, and while I’ve been sticking to some healthier choices, I felt it hard to find any gumption yesterday. Jack reminded me- “you still went out and did something, you have to start somewhere.” This is why I need him.

I’d like to focus more on meditative healing, mentally. I found a couple neat articles about the healing power of meditation, and I have to say… I’m a quote fanatic, I have a daily quote feed on my phone and my status on FB is almost always someone else’s wise words… though I’m still trying to polish some of my own.

Only a healthy bud can blossom. In the same way, only a healthy being can succeed.

-http://www.artofliving.org/healing-power-meditation

The Oxford Dictionary says ‘healing’ means to make sound or whole, or to restore to health.

-http://goodlifezen.com/2009/02/25/does-meditation-heal/

 

I’ll share my meditation experiences soon! Happy Healing!

To Health!

Alright, I feel as though it’s been ages. I haven’t blogged- perhaps because I’ve been working on myself and some other things. Take a little time off, from computers, and things seem to unfold the way they are meant. Exciting things are happening, I’ve been given the amazing opportunity to sow my own land, an acre that is. Many would think an acre is a small, quite a tiny bit of space comparatively. They know nothing! An acre is a bountiful lot- I have the potential to do and learn so much from this land. I am graciously accepting it as I gear up for early spring seedlings and transplants- life is exciting.

This also marks Day One for me on my journey back to health. I decided to create for myself a 30-day challenge. I have a hard time sticking to any kind of plan that will change my body & mind. Thinking it would be better to create one myself- I’m digging in.

Now back to health, let me clarify- mental, physical and emotional health are all in order for check up. I am determined to take on a gluten-free lifestyle with Jack, I think this will help with headaches & digestion issues. He has been going steady for over a month now- something I will strive to take on, though, it’s always easier with a partner in crime. (What will I do without BEER!?)

I need to work meditation and journaling back into my lifestyle. Who says I’m too busy for it, no one but myelf. With the help of healing meditation and my library card, I’m going to work my was back to mental health. My emotional health will be a slow process. I need to allow myself to feel emotions as they come. I spend so much time analyzing why I’m feeling a certain way, that I forget to let it happen and become immersed in my emotion. This will take time, but I must be wiling.

Physical health- always a struggle. It’s easy to slip, let yourself have an indulgence every now and then. But if it’s not in the house- then I won’t be tempted. Again, so much easier knowing Jack will be helping. I’m vowing to tackle 25 miles/week: no matter the action- bike, walk, run, stroll, blade- I’ll DO IT. Even harder will be with the cold moving in quickly, its that much harder to get my ass off the couch. But I am VOWING, I”LL DO IT.

In an ideal world I’d like to work on other areas to, you know, arms, legs, abs blah blah blah. We’ll see how that goes. Maybe I’ll try to shoot into a yoga class? Everything is worth a shot, but not if I don’t take it.

Mostly because, I can’t seem to find full happiness until I am satisfied, personally- not to others, with my appearance. I don’t care what others will say- say what you say, you’re not me, likewise I am not you and your words are like air. So here’s to another vow to my future-self. I’ll do it, my happiness depends on it.

Here’s to mental, physical & emotional health! Cheers!

To Feel the Insanities

I feel insanity clawing its way back into my life, this is something I thought I had long since left behind. One simple action will send my mind into a thralling rage. A woman slowly, very slowly making her way through a self-checkout. Someone taking their time parking- while I’m stuck waiting to leave. Yesterday, I actually became enraged over someone who came to a complete stop at a stop sign… So, insanity ensues. I don’t want this again.

Five years ago I felt the wrath of this insanity take hold of my thoughts  emotions, actions and words. I let it rule my relationships and begin to control what I thought I had control of. It is pure rage. How my emotions can go from 0 to 60 in less than 5 minutes I am oblivious- but I wish, to no end, that I could learn to control it. I become irate  I lose my temper. I throw, slam, punch and scream my way through nearly an hour before I can take a breath and realize I am being ridiculous. I don’t want this again.

I remember driving to school my senior year (in the midst of my angst, rage, depression  whatever you want to dub it) I was fine. Driving like a normal morning, sure I was not happy in general- but my CD player started skipping and was eating the CD. I screamed every curse, every explicit- every nasty combination of words one could manage to bind. I punched my dashboard repeatedly  over and over again. I swerved off the road into a marshy ditch. I took a breath and looked up. Between the broken medallion I loved so much, the cracked dashboard and my bloody fist (not to mention looking up and seeing my truck in a ditch) I knew I had lost it. I don’t want this again.

Yesterday, I felt a pang of this angst. As I squealed my tires to get out of a parking lot, blew a stop sign and went 60 in a 35- I pulled into my driveway. I was physically out of breath. My hands shaking, my heart throbbing out of my chest. I look up, I know that I’m losing it. I don’t want this again.

I tend to blame these insanities on the imbalance in my brain. This terror I was in three years ago seemed to be subdued with anti anxiety and anti-depression medication. Match that with 1 year of intensive therapy: I had dubbed myself a new person. Yet now, three years future, I feel myself slipping. I went on and off of those medications too many times (unknown to the Doctor, who will always say, you must ween yourself- it will have side effects if you don’t) Is this a side effect? Is it rage I must now deal with because I have an imbalance? Do I feel happy, sad, angry, irate, depressed, hopeful, dreadful, fearful and lost in the matter of 5 minutes because I am human or because I have tousled my brain chemicals? I don’t want this again.

Things aren’t exactly, looking up. Though last night, post-rage, I made the executive decision to see my doctor again. I am worried, am I causing problems that aren’t there? Am I breaking my cardinal rule; seeing all of the gray, no focusing on the black and white? I have let stressors seep into my thoughts and dig their claws at my sanity. Here I sit, analyzing, adjusting and playing scenarios in my head to pass time; do I go back on medication to calm my nerves- or do I learn to control it. How much control can I have over a chemical imbalance? I just feel lost over what I should do, but this can’t happen again. I don’t want this again.


I want sanity, clarity and independence from angst.

I seek total control and operation of my thoughts.

I need to release the grip of things not in my control.

I decide my fate. I decide my attitude.

I think today, I pray to a higher power that I will gain these things. Or be granted an opportunity to utilize or try developing these skills. I can’t pretend to be in control forever. What better time to try then now. I must learn to lose the gray. I seek only the black and white. I seek clarity. This won’t happen again.

To Make No Sense: Just Write.

(From a brain’s sidenote…) I have yet to encounter a literal oxymoron, one I watch with my own eyes. I watched a GFS Truck(Gordon Food Services aka… processed, unhealthy, chemically induced food services) pulling out of a Rehab center near my house. They also house elderly, sick and patients going through the final stages of dependency and physical rehab. How on earth can the justify receiving food from GFS?!  How are our bodies supposed to heal if they’re just being pumped full of more chemicals, more disease and absolutely  nothing that will provide nourishment, nutrients and strength. Through this pathetic display of “care,” I think I see an outlet. I will provide these centers with healthy food, with knowledge and provide the means to obtain a healthy food system. Keeping my eyes out for new ways to market, I think this could be a wonderful possibility. Though I’d have to confront them myself question what they’re feeding their “patients” and challenge them to make a change. Healthy foods are the first step to any body’s’ healing.  Besides food, besides physical health, and safe food mumbo-jumbo: How can I improve my mental health?

I’ve still got this desire to run, as fast as I possibly can, away from everything. Here I feel relationships fighting and scratching to come up on a clean, healthy surface. Here I feel my feet slipping out from underneath me as I try to stay positive in a workplace full of dullness and routine. Here I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel because I’m squinting to see in blackness. Here I want so badly to be free but I’m bound by what I can’t see past: anger, frustration, sadness, urgency, anxiety; I feel like a ball of wires so jumbled even the quickest Rubik’s Cube master would struggle to undo. How do I fix, work on, heal, look away, look up- from all this?

So a quick (I find worthless) search on “improving your mental health.” It returns to me this list of what “healthy” people feel like. And of course, what I do not feel like.

“People who are mentally and emotionally healthy have:

  • A sense of contentment. -Not quite.
  • A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun. –Does it count if I laugh, have fun and live without the whole zest part?
  • The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity. -Eh, working on it?
  • A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships.This just worries me.
  • The flexibility to learn new things and adapt to change.I suppose I’ve always been able to do this.
  • A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.Define “balance?”
  • The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.Can I use the latter… eh, working on it?
  • Self-confidence and high self-esteem.”Sure… none of that matters to me, I function with or without it, it does not define me.

I suppose at the end of the day, today, I feel like this: I am not happy fully content with the person I am right now…. So, where do I start?

Physical Health. I’ll start there. What if I challenge myself to walk just 2 miles a day, 2 miles- it’s nothing! I will start today, I’m making a vow, to my future-self. Physical health is the first important step of lifting your mood and improving your brain function. Create a to-do-list…

  • Put in my daily 2 miles
  • Groceries (grain, coffee, milk, eggs, butter, yeast, chocolate chips, flour, cream cheese, chips- healthy chips)
  • Make bagels (Favorite recipe below…)
  • Wednesday- Farmer’s Market! In dire need of produce. Walk to this, it’s just about 2 miles, round trip.

Bagel Recipe

 

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons of active dry yeast

1 ½ tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups of warm water (you may need ± ¼ cup more, I know I did)
3 ½ cups (500g) of bread flour or high gluten flour(will need extra for kneading)
1 ½ teaspoons of salt

Optional Toppings:
Caraway seeds, coarse salt, minced fresh garlic, minced fresh onion, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds. (Everyone in my house prefers plain bagels, but I have no preference, so I just went with the plain, so no one could complain.)

Preparation:
1. In ½ cup of the warm water, pour in the sugar and yeast. Do not stir. Let it sit for five minutes, and then stir the yeast and sugar mixture, until it all dissolves in the water.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and sugar mixture.

3. Pour half of the remaining warm water into the well. Mix and stir in the rest of the water as needed. Depending on where you live, you may need to add anywhere from a couple tablespoons to about ¼ cup of water. You want to result in a moist and firm dough after you have mixed it.

4. On a floured countertop, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Try working in as much flour as possible to form a firm and stiff dough.

5. Lightly brush a large bowl with oil and turn the dough to coat. Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for another 10 minutes.

6. Carefully divide the dough into 8 pieces (I used a scale to be extra precise, but it’s not necessary). Shape each piece into a round. Now, take a dough ball, and press it gently against the countertop (or whatever work surface you’re using) moving your hand and the ball in a circular motion pulling the dough into itself while reducing the pressure on top of the dough slightly until a perfect dough ball forms (as pictured below). Repeat with 7 other dough rounds

7. Coat a finger in flour, and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about ⅓ the diameter of the bagel and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Repeat the same step with the remaining dough.

8. After shaping the dough rounds and placing them on the cookie sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425ºF / 220ºC / Gas Mark 7.

9. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lower the bagels into the water. Boil as many as you are comfortable with boiling. Once the bagels are in, it shouldn’t take too long for them to float to the top (a couple seconds). Let them sit there for 1 minute, and them flip them over to boil for another minute. Extend the boiling times to 2 minutes each, if you’d prefer a chewier bagel (results will give you a more New York Style bagel with this option)

10. If you want to top your bagels with stuff, do so as you take them out of the water, you may use the “optional toppings” (listed above) to top the bagels and if you’re risky like me, make a combination of the toppings to top the bagels with, but before hand, you will need to use an egg wash to get the toppings to stick before putting the bagels into the oven.

11. Once all the bagels have boiled (and have been topped with your choice of toppings), transfer them to a lightly oiled baking sheet.

12. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown.

13. Cool on a wire rack

Best Bagel Recipe I’ve found as of yet, here’s her blog too: http://www.sophisticatedgourmet.com/2009/10/new-york-style-bagel-recipe/

I want to make a vow to my future-self to CALM DOWN. I’ve got to breath and for Pete’s sake, STOP ANALYZING and causing unnecessary anxiety. Analyzing does nothing, I’m not a shrink, therapist or anything few and far between, I am myself and I’m not going to fix my problems by picking them apart like roadkill. TAKE WALKS not only to clear my head but to get my brain moving as well. BAKE MORE it’s good for me and it’s something I really enjoy. Turn off the damn TV: TV’s don’t want you to have a healthy relationship with anyone. Turn it off and listen to music instead. Last I need to promise myself that I’ll focus on just One Day at a Time: I sound anxious and eager when I try to take on yesterday, today, tomorrow and the upcoming weekend.

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes,

but when you look back everything is different.”

– C.S. Lewis