Health and Wellness Through Movement and Nutrition

I gave a talk this morning at The Unitarian Universalist church of Pittsfield. It was part of a larger conversation about Health and Wellness Through Movement and Nutrition. It was fun to partner up with the church administrator, Kas Maroney who offers strength training and other exercise classes. I will add an excerpt from the service for your reading pleasure.

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Mike Adams, author, investigative journalist and educator is quoted as saying

…“Today, more than 95% of all chronic disease is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercise.” –

So how does nutrition contribute to having energy to do the things we like to do? Seems like a silly question doesn’t it. After all food and water are our life source, we all understand on some level that we can’t live without them. But it’s surprising how many people, including medical practitioners truly don’t consider the impact nutrition has on our health. When was the last time your doctor said “go home make a cup of tea (without sugar please) and vegetable barley soup and then go to bed early to catch up on your rest?” Rather we tend to believe and trust that there is a magic pill or medical procedure that can address whatever health issue arises. Therefore we don’t have to give much thought to how we eat and live our lives. In essence, we don’t have to take much responsibility in assuring we have good health because that’s someone else’s job.

We live in a society where the idea of health is that you reach a certain age and your health begins to fail. We expect to become ill throughout our lives with common ailments such as flu or cold and many of us grow up believing that due to our genetics we will develop whatever ailment has plagued our family of origin. The science to support this thinking is sketchy at times and often funded by pharmaceutical companies who are going to make killing on our fears. It has become our cultural or societal norm to be bombarded by advertisements for the next wonder drug and then we find ourselves calling our doctors to ask if it is right for us. The good news is there is a simpler, less dangerous solution that can in fact improve health and vitality at any age. The truth is nutrition and lifestyle have everything to do with how healthy we are regardless of our genetics.

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The student prepared feast at Kushi Institute’s Macrobiotic Leadership Program Level Ceremony!

The growing chatter out there about eating healthy whole foods or real foods for health can get a bit confusing, however. Go into any book store and you will find numerous books on the topic and some contradict the one you just read. That has more to do with competing interests than it does with good information. Many of these books offer good solid information that really needs to be considered if we are to reduce the growing health crisis we experience not only here in the United States with diabetes, obesity, cancer and heart disease, but now in many other regions of the world where diet has changed and moved away from the foods that were traditionally eaten.

Two of my favorite authors on the subject of healing through food include, Dr. Neal Barnard who I’ve eaten lunch with when he was visiting the Kushi Institute where I work part time, and Dr. Anne Marie Colbin, who I’ve had the pleasure of hearing lecture at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition where I am completing my studies as a health coach. These authors are among many authorities on gaining good health through diet. They have taken the time to learn and experience what a nutritious balanced diet can do for our overall good health. Dr. Barnard is the founder and president of The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and is one of the leading advocates of health, nutrition and higher standards in research. Dr. Anne Marie Colbin, is an award-winning leader in the field of natural health, and a highly sought-after lecturer and wellness consultant…. and she is funny. Colbin is Founder and CEO of the Natural Gourmet. They are both prolific writers and they speak the truth as is supported by good research. I think one of the best outlines written explaining good food and how to approach it was written by Dr. Colbin.

In her book, “Food and Healing” Anne Marie Colbin outlines seven criteria for food selection which I believe helps us really think about how to find the foods we need for good health and energy. I want to share an excerpt from the book that details these seven criteria. She starts with:

Whole: as nature provides them, with all their edible parts (grains with their bran and germ, apples with their skin – if not waxed) cooked raw vegetables and fruits rather than juices or vitamin pills. Whole foods Colbin says supply all of nature’s nutrients in a team, as well as providing us with the life energy of the food.

Fresh, natural, real, organically grown: meaning not canned, not frozen, certainly not irradiated or genetically engineered, free from chemical additives, colorings or preservatives. The foods we choose should be the real thing, full of their life energy, not imitations (such as margarine or artificial sweeteners) which invariably turn out to have some health damaging effect. Organically grown foods not only have been proven to have higher nutrients, but also taste far superior to the commercially grown kind.

Seasonal: To be in harmony with our environment, it is a very good idea to choose summery foods in the summer, wintery foods in the winter. Fruits and vegetables in season are cheaper and do not lose nutrients like foods that have been transported long distances. They also taste better. In addition seasonal eating means salads and fruit in the summer and soups and stews in the winter. On the whole, most people do eat this way instinctively. However, with the advent of refrigeration, freezer trucks, and worldwide transportation we can get raspberries in December and yams in July.  We also ignore this natural order when we go on restricted diets, such as raw food and juice regimes, which require us to eat lots of fruits and vegetables in the winter or cooked salty macrobiotic meals in the summer. With these diets we go out of sync with our environment, and we might feel cold in the winter, or cranky and depressed in the summer.

Local: Local produce is fresher, tastes better and is more nutritious because it is picked riper and does not lose nutrients in travel. The best restaurants in the country have discovered this and make an effort to obtain the freshest organically grown local foods, which they consider top quality.

In Harmony with Tradition: We should pay attention to what our ancestors ate and incorporate those foods into our diet where ever possible, maybe with some modifications (less salt, less fat, less sugar) For example, our staple grain will taste more appropriate if our ancestors ate it as well – barley and oats from the British Iles, Rye and wheat from Europe, Kasha from Eastern Europe and Russia, millet, teff and sorghum from Africa, millet and rice from Asia, corn and quinoa from the Americas.

Balanced: It’s important to make sure there is enough protein, carbohydrates, fat, and micronutrients in our diet as a whole, and to pay attention to the expansive/contractive, acid/alkaline and the five phase theory system. For aesthetics it is also important to include foods with a variety of flavors, colors and textures.

 Delicious: There is no point in eating “healthy” food if it doesn’t taste good. Besides, our taste buds can guide us, when encountering whole, real natural foods, to what we need and what we don’t need …and we’d do well to listen.

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The movement toward eating better is now thought to include a return to what our ancestors ate meaning eating foods grown closer to home in more natural circumstances. It also means getting rid of the sugary processed foods that are killing us. What we are learning in the nutrition field is that the closer the food we eat is to its natural form the better it is for us. My new food mantra is “if it contains more than a couple ingredients it’s probably not good for me.” I shop the perimeter of a grocery store and at open air or farmer’s markets when possible. I read labels incessantly and in reducing my sugar and processed food intake have greatly improved my health. In my health coaching practice I begin by suggesting clients reduce or refrain from eating the following foods: sugar, white flour and other gluten products, animal proteins, processed foods, alcohol and tobacco and in some cases soy products. This simple starting point has assisted many others in achieving their health goals. Though the recommendations are simple the practice is not always so simple. We are used to sweet and salty foods that don’t necessarily taste like the food they mimic. So it is important to be patient with yourself and have someone in it with you who can support you to reach optimal health.

I close today with this quote from Hippocrates:

Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food.

                                           Be Well!

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit

How many of you remember the children’s rhyme about beans? You know the one that claims the more you eat the more you toot. Ha, Since those early days as a child living in a neighborhood in Northern California where we skipped down the street singing this tune, I’ve come to really appreciate the health benefits of beans….and how to cook them so you don’t toot quite so much.
LEGUMES
http://yumuniverse.com/how-tosday-soaking-and-cooking-legumes/
Heather Crosby of Yum Universe describes how to prepare legumes and why it is important to use the real deal whenever possible rather than from a can. I love the way she outlines yields and cooking time in this blog entry.

Beyond this beans are just plain good for you and offer a very good source of protein and nutrients that is easily digested for most people. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to eat them either. My rule of thumb goes something likes this…replace red meat with red beans at least once weekly for optimal digestion of proteins. The American Heart Association agrees that beans are preferable to animal proteins for heart health. For some people who suffer from digestive issues such as IBS or Crohn’s Disease eating beans can be challenging but for most of us they are a welcome addition to our protein intake.

There is a wonderful assortment of legumes available on the market today. You can find them in bulk at many small markets and even some of the larger scale grocery stores have added bulk bins so you can grab good quality, organic non-GMO dried beans. Beans and Legumes provide soluble fiber and are packed with nutrients such as iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They are a pretty versatile food that can be prepared in a wide range of dishes from around the world. I must say since I’ve replaced meat with beans and bean products such as tofu and tempeh my energy and weight have both markedly improved.
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I’m going to share a favorite snack I make with adzuki beans, a sweet bean originally from japan that is described by many foodies as a super food along with chickpeas, lentils and black beans all of which I eat regularly. This high energy snack is both delicious and nutritious!

Chocolate Adzuki Bites (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Soy Free)

Ingredients:
For the adzuki balls:
• 1/2 cup dried adzuki beans
• 3/4 cup pecans
• 6 or so pitted medjool dates (about 1/2 cup)
• 1/4 cup cocoa
• 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/4 tsp salt
• 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
• 1-2 teaspoons rice milk (optional)

For the topping:
You can choose either shredded coconut, chopped pecans or chopped cashews. You’ll need about a cup of whichever one you choose. For the nuts, I recommend blending them in the food processor before you make the balls because then you don’t have to clean it out.
• 1 cup of selected topping
• 1/4 tsp sea salt (the larger flakey kind if possible)

Directions:
Put the adzuki beans in a small pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Boil for about an hour, making sure you don’t let them dry out, until they are soft. Drain and set aside.

In a food processor or blender, blend the nuts for your topping (if using) and set aside. Add 3/4 cup cooked adzuki beans (they will have swollen up so your 1/2 cup should have turned into at least 3/4 cup), 3/4 cup pecans, dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. If it is too dry to blend well, you can add rice or almond milk a teaspoon at a time to add moisture. You can also add a teaspoon of maple syrup to make it a little sweeter (if you use the maple syrup you probably won’t need the rice milk)

Scoop out the dough a tablespoon or so at a time and roll into balls. Sprinkle them with just a bit of the sea salt and then roll the balls in the topping until they are coated then put them in the fridge for about an hour to firm up.

And for a little childhood humor:

Beans, beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So we have beans at every meal!

the_bean_eater
http://www.artble.com/artists/annibale_carracci/paintings/the_bean_eater

The Bean Eaters

Gwendolyn Brooks, 1917 – 2000

They eat beans mostly, this old yellow pair.
Dinner is a casual affair.
Plain chipware on a plain and creaking wood,
Tin flatware.

Two who are Mostly Good.
Two who have lived their day,
But keep on putting on their clothes
And putting things away.

And remembering . . .
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
As they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.

Be Well

website: http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

Back to School Basics

In some places children have already returned to school with the anticipation that the start of a new adventure brings. Locally we have another week to wind down our summer. Even though the private school where I’m employed as a counselor and nutrition consultant is a year round school I still get that beginning of the school year feeling. It’s something between excitement for all the possibilities and melancholy about the end of another summer season.
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In keeping with the beginning of the school year theme as it relates to my health coaching practice, I wanted to share some ideas for how to pack healthy, brain food for your child/ren that doesn’t set them apart from their peers. Let’s make eating healthy the cool thing to do this year and see if it can become the new cool. Something as simple as cream cheese (or Tofutti dairy free cream cheese) topped with fresh fruit is sure to grab kids attention.
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Other ideas range from fruit kabobs to assorted wraps. Most fruit will keep in a lunchbox and when it’s as easy as sliding off a skewer into your mouth who can resist.
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http://www.chow.com/food-news/89934/27-healthy-snack-ideas-for-kids-lunch-boxes/
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http://www.mysporties.com/tuesday-tip-snacks-to-kick-off-the-school-year-with-a-healthy-start/
We can create so many variations of wraps that it’s limitless. In fact, in many schools they are slowly replacing white enriched bread with whole grain breads and wraps.
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http://www.bodyenlightenment.me/blog/2013/08/how-to-put-healthy-back-into-school-lunches/
Wraps are an easy way to include vegetables in your child’s lunch in a way that they will eat them. If you can make the time to engage your child in the preparation of these beauties they are more likely not to trade them away for a snickers bar. My favorite wrap to teach children to make in my Cool Kids Cooking Class is the California wrap which includes avacado, sprouts, cucumber, carrots and cheese (if your child can tolerate dairy). It always makes me smile to see how quickly kids take to eating healthy when they are part of the preparation.
cali vege wrap
I also suggest getting to know the lunch ladies (and gents) who are preparing school breakfast and lunch. Be kind to these hard working people and let them know that you appreciate their efforts. Congratulate them when they have made something healthy and kid friendly. Offer your ideas about improving school meals in a way they can hear you. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that people respond better when you are willing to walk with them on their journey than when we give the impression we know what’s best. lunch ladies
If you are involved in your child’s school you may want to get involved in changing school food programs so that all children enjoy a healthier meal. For some children these are the only meals they eat each day so keeping it nutritious means they can attend to learning and the other challenges school brings. One of the many challenges educators face is holding all children to a standard. When a child experiences food insecurity it can be nearly impossible for them to focus on English or math. Educators are all too aware of these challenges.
An example of what a couple moms did in Berkeley California to change the school lunch program in their children’s school is the movie “Two Angry Moms.” It outlines what isn’t working with school meal programs and shows how they went about dramatically creating the change in their school. It is one example of how to start thinking about the food we eat and provide to school children.
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“You must be the change you want to see in the world”
Mahatma Ghandi

Be Well
Leanne Yinger, M.Ed. Holistic Health Coach @ Kira’s Kitchen

blog: http://kirasgoodeatskitchen.com

website: http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

Time to Garden

I am inspired with the warming weather and the Flower Moon we had this week. Driving home on Wednesday night that beautiful moon was just beginning to peak over the Green Mountains in Bennington Vermont and it was breathtaking. This is a borrowed photo as my iphone couldn’t do the moon justice. It now truly feels like spring is here and so we can begin to plant our vegetable and flower gardens.

flower moon

http://shewhodreams.weebly.com/uploads/6/8/3/0/6830014/5473872.jpg?419

To inspire me even more this week I found this beauty growing in the window at the Vermont Arts Exchange http://www.vtartxchange.org/. Being a native Californian, I am accustomed to seeing fresh produce year round in some form. But to find a fully ripe tomato in Vermont in mid May is such a gift. After all we had snow on the ground less than a month ago!

tomatoes

I’m telling you the truth, right in Vermont, right now mid May there are these lovely tomatoes ready to eat! Planted in large buckets along the back wall of the multiuse art room at the Arts Exchange are growing 10 foot high tomato plants like these. I have had the pleasure of watching them grow since February.

tomato plants

So now I have to find my organic seeds and plants at various farmer’s markets and gardening shops. I like High Mowing Seeds http://www.highmowingseeds.com/ they have come through for me in past years and are fairly local in Wolcott, Vermont. So far I’ve planted my first round of snow peas which is my favorite to grow (and eat). I also plan to grow green beans, kale, summer and zucchini squash, lettuce and cherry tomatoes. My garden is small but it manages to produce a good amount of produce each year. This is an example of one of my recent harvests.

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So with all the fresh produce to look forward to I am searching for new recipes to add to my website. I made this one last night and it was delightful.

6 cups baby spring greens

½ cup crumbled goat cheese

½ cup dried cranberries

1 cup toasted walnuts

1 shallot minced

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

¼ olive oil

Salt/pepper to taste

Well I’m heading outside to see what kind of gardening I can get done before the three days of rain arrive.

“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the Earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” Kate Morton author of The Forgotten Garden.

Blessed Be

 

 

On Living

Smile, breathe and go slowly

Thich Nhat Hanh

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As we venture out each day to do whatever it is that we do it is good to be grounded in some type of mindful practice. When we take the time to truly pay attention to our body and how we interact with the world, we can learn how to live richer, fuller lives. I start each day with a moment of gratitude. Waking in the morning reminds me that I am simply thankful for being here to greet another day and all the day will bring.

This weekend I completed basic training in EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, http://www.emdrhap.org/content/what-is-emdr/. This is a form of psychotherapy developed by Francine Shapiro that has been documented to be very effective with symptoms related to trauma. In order to become an EMDR therapist you must experience it first hand and so today I find myself even more mindful than usual….and this is a very good thing!

I am mindful that in my personal business @ Kira’s Kitchen I have several programs about to begin and that means I have lots of work to do. There was a time that the knowledge of all that needed to get done would have sent me into a tailspin. Now I am able to just acknowledge the tasks, line them up and plug away until they are complete. Seems simple enough right? For each of us the answer is different and so we each get to decide for ourselves.

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I am also mindful that I love both my jobs as a Holistic Health Coach and as a Clinician. What a blessing that is in life to love the work we do! Now that hasn’t always been the case. At some point in my life I made a decision to live with purpose, to do things that feed my body and soul while offering something meaningful to the world around me. The difference now is that I can appreciate where that mantra has brought me and I can be grateful that I’m here.

And so I will keep this blog post short. I love the comments and feedback my followers share and enjoy the good work you are all doing as well. To be blessed with good work, good health and so many wonderful people in my life who I love and I believe love me (even on those truly impossible days) is a gift that keeps giving. It allows me to take on the world and be as courageous as I need to be.

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~ “Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice… No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Be Well

The Scoop on Sugar

Did you know that the average person eats 22 teaspoons of sugar per day! It’s a fact, and we aren’t just pouring those 22 teaspoons into our tea and coffee either. But, If we decide to have that Starbucks Frappucinno we are consuming a whopping 44 teaspoons of sugar kids…and that lemon poppy seed Clif bar has 21 teaspoons of sugar. For the record, a reasonable amount of sugar for us to consume daily if we are not diabetic is approximately 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.

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Now that doesn’t mean you NEED to eat that sugar, it just means it is not likely to cause adverse health in the long run. Remember we are talking about added, refined sugars. It is wise to simply avoid all together the high fructose corn sugar as research shows that there is potential for non alcoholic liver damage from the over consumption of HFCS.

Children are at greater risk for adverse health, mood/emotion and behavior issues from overconsumption of sugars. AND the recommendation for daily consumption drops significantly for children. It’s only 3 teaspoons daily for children 4-8 years of age.

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If we look for it we can find sugar in the most surprising places, in foods we thought were healthy. Become a food detective and read the labels before purchasing that healthy cereal or energy bar. If it has an ingredient that ends in “ose” that is a sugar derivative and you want to just walk away from that product and head to the fresh fruit isle.

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So to recap, refined sugar and high fructose sugars are connected to food related health issues such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. There is no nutritional value in consuming them and there are healthier options. Why not start today to kick your sugar habit and find better healthier options.

Try this delightfully easy recipe for taming your sweet tooth:

 Chocolate Adzuki Bites (Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Soy Free)

Ingredients:

For the adzuki balls:

  • 1/2 cup dried adzuki beans
  • 3/4  cup pecans
  • 6 or so pitted medjool dates (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1-2 teaspoons rice milk (optional)

For the topping:

You can choose either shredded coconut, chopped pecans or chopped cashews. You’ll need about a cup of whichever one you choose. For the nuts, I recommend blending them in the food processor before you make the balls because then you don’t have to clean it out before adding the remaining items.

  • 1 cup of selected topping
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (the larger flakey kind if possible)

Directions:

Put the adzuki beans in a small pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Boil for about an hour, making sure you don’t let them dry out, until they are soft. Drain and set aside.

In a food processor or blender, blend the nuts for your topping (if using) and set aside. Add 3/4 cup cooked adzuki beans (they will have swollen up so your 1/2 cup should have turned into at least 3/4 cup), 3/4 cup pecans, dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. If it is too dry to blend well, you can add rice or almond milk a teaspoon at a time to add moisture. You can also add a teaspoon of maple syrup to make it a little sweeter (if you use the maple syrup you probably won’t need the rice milk)

Scoop out the dough a tablespoon or so at a time and roll into balls. Sprinkle them with just a bit of the sea salt and then roll the balls in the topping until they are coated then put them in the fridge for about an hour to firm up.

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If you’d like to learn more about how to detect the sugar in your diet and control the amount you consume go to my website and sign up for my free (this time only) lecture on May 10th at 1:00pm at The David and Joyce Milne Library in Williamstown, MA. http://milnelibrary.org/

Also follow my blog and check out my website: http://www.leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/ for healthier sweet options and free recipes. You can send me an email as well with questions or to sign up for one of my programs at kiraskitchen5@gmail.com.

“In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and the sharing of pleasures.”

Kahlil Gibran

Peace and Brightest Blessings

California Dreaming

Over the years my friends have asked what brought me to New England from sunny California. I have the same answer though it’s been adjusted for age and audience. For the sake of my blog I will say it was a boy and the dream of becoming a potter. I did accomplish the pottery dream but the boy was another story for another time perhaps.

When I left California at 19 in my 1978 Datsun 610 loaded to the roof with my belongings I didn’t know I would not return to California to live. Honestly, I was just up for an adventure and a change of scene. My parents were as supportive as they could be considering their daughter was about to embark on a cross country trip in October when weather could be unpredictable. And then there was all the potential danger ahead. It was not easy to leave everyone I knew and loved and head east to the great unknown. I found humor in the fact that I was, as I’d always done, traveling my own path….head East young woman…head East was the mantra that evolved.

mom and dad

Mom and Dad at the cabin in Dorrington California in the Sierra Nevada Mountains circa 1982

I must say that I have no regrets other than I have not been able to participate in my family’s life in the same way I would have had I stayed in California. I have gone home regularly through the years with my children and will continue to do so. My family is incredibly important to me and we truly enjoy spending time together. One such trip was in 2010 when my sister Patti, my brother Jim and sister in law Joanne all traveled to Reno, Nevada for our mom’s 86th birthday. It will be my dear mom’s birthday in 2 days…she would have been 91! The Reno trip was a TRIP and I’ll tell that story only with permission from those involved.

mom and barbershop quartet

Mom in Reno for her 86th birthday at a barbershop festival…don’t ask it was wild times for a wild woman!

So as winter holds on this year in Massachusetts, and continues to deliver more cold, snow and ice I am wondering again how I could have left sunny, warm California at 19. How did I travel across the country to Connecticut, without a good winter coat or boots I might add, and then stay all these years after? It will be a wonderment until it no longer is and I have to say I wouldn’t have wanted to miss any of it. I have three of the most talented, creative, loving children (okay so they are no longer children) and feel blessed to have met all the people I have in this life. I have strong connections to my roots in California and to my childhood friends and my family and for all this I am truly blessed.

mom and me

And so Happy Birthday mom I hope you and dad are dancing your shoes off in heaven.

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on Earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Blessed Be