On Grace and Enlightenment

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Our true home is in the present moment.

To live in the present moment is a miracle.

The miracle is not to walk on water.

The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment,

to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.

Peace is all around us…

in the world and in nature…

and within us…

in our bodies and our spirits.

Once we learn to touch this peace,

we will be healed and transformed.

It is not a matter of faith;

It is a matter of practice.

                                                     Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Stay Vacation in Paradise…HOME

My stay vacation in Berkshire County is nearing at an end. I’m happy to say I’ve accomplished many of the house projects I set out to do this week and I had a ton of fun on the cheap. One the favorite things this week was taking a walk with my daughter Kristen and my two dogs on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-west/ashuwillticook-rail-trail.html where we found a momma duck and her ducklings. She was right out of the children’s story book Make Way for Ducklings. She seemed unfazed by my dogs who by all rights are bird dogs though they have been humanized by me and would rather swim than retrieve birds. Kristen is as much of a birder as I am so we were pretty happy to get photos.ImageImage

After a day of heavy rain I took a walk at Wahconah Falls State Park http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-west/wahconah-falls-state-park-generic.html. The falls were high which I expected, as was the mosquito population but it was completely worth the trip. I took many photos and a 1 minute video of the falls to play when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life. I also got my first 100 mosquito bites for the season.Image

I feel a sense of accomplishment in having my vegetable garden planted and the perennial garden beds somewhat less weedy though that project never ends.The exterior trim around my new kitchen patio door and window are painted a lovely brick red making them stand out. It’s amazing how a little paint can completely brighten things up. I am blessed to have had a kitchen remodel (nearly completed) by a very talented contractor/carpenter. This remodel allows me to offer individual and small group cooking classes in my home kitchen which I truly love. And I get to chat with people like my lovely daughters while cooking too! Image

Today I’ll be on the lake in a canoe with a dear friend. There are many other projects to be done but they will have to wait. In my health coaching practice I encourage others to make room for play in their lives. I’m a work horse so taking time to play and live the balanced life I teach others about can be a challenge for me. Here’s what I do  to remind myself the importance of balance and play: enjoy every moment, seek happiness without any reason to be happy, be yourself and truly love that self, share, know you can cope with difficulties, find time to play and experience the joy in this life. We are here to love and be loved, to experience joy and to share ourselves with others. 

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Our true home is in the present moment. To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now. Peace is all around us…in the world and in nature…and within us…in our bodies and our spirits. Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed. It is not a matter of faith; it is a matter of practice.

Thich Nhat Hanh

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

Think About Your Brain

Do you ever consider the health of your brain? If yes, what is it you consider. If no…you might want to take some time to do so for your brain’s health.

The brain according to Dr. Daniel Amen, is the “hardware of your soul.” It requires special attention and yet often receives the least, unless there is an issue such as stroke or Alzheimer’s Disease. The good news is we don’t have to wait to learn there is an issue with our brain, we can do many things right now to improve brain function and health….and it does not take a rocket scientist to make these changes.

Dr. Amen tells us that even if we are genetically predisposed to disease such as Alzheimer’s Disease it does not mean we will experience it. There are many things we can do each day to keep our brains healthy.

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http://mashable.com/2013/04/02/obama-brain/

The following 10 tips will greatly improve your memory, alertness and overall brain health:

1) Get that 8 hours of sleep you dream about

2) Keep to a great diet that includes fresh foods such as assorted vegetables and fruits, foods rich in omega 3 and whole grains while reducing sugar, processed foods and animal proteins.

3) Surround yourself with positive people who support you

4) Learn something new…often

5) Exercise for 20-30 minutes a day, (take a walk during lunch)

6) Maintain a healthy weight for your body

7) Drink green tea

8) Learn to manage and reduce your stress

9) Start and/or end your day with a moment of gratitude

10) Enjoy nature and fresh air often

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Here is a nice recipe for better brain health. Add some short grain brown rice and steamed kale to this and WOW!

Orange Pan – Glazed Tempeh

 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 Teaspoons tamari (or shoyu)

1 ½ Tablespoon mirin

2 Teaspoons maple syrup

½ Teaspoon ground coriander

2 small cloves garlic, crushed

10 ounces tempeh (or extra firm tofu)

2 Tablespoons olive oil (use light as extra virgin will smoke)

½ lime

Optional – cilantro

 

Squeeze juice and place it in a small bowl.

Grate the ginger over the bowl making sure to add the juice.

Mix together the tamari, mirin, maple syrup, ground coriander and garlic. Set aside this mixture.

Cut the tempeh (or tofu) into bite size pieces (if working with tofu, pat dry and then cut up)

Heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking.

Add the tempeh and sautee for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Pout the orange juice over the tempeh and continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes until the sauce has reduced to a nice glaze.

Make sure to turn the tempeh while the sauce reduces to prevent sticking.

Serve the tempeh with grain side dish. Drizzle the remaining tamari sauce mixture over the top.

Add lime juice and cilantro if desired.

 

Take time to take care of your brain and body for you!

 

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 

 

Smile in this Moment

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~ “It is possible to live happily in the here and now. So many conditions of happiness are available—more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more.” ~

Thich Nhat Hanh

mom, Kristen & Hannah

An abundance of natural beauty surrounds us every day…..take time to notice and honor natures gifts.

Pat Stacy 17 mile drive

AND…..in this sweet life we are blessed with many lovely people to love, who make us smile…..remember to cherish them

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AND if you love to eat well you will be even happier…of this I am sure! Try this recipe for an uplifting experience.

French Lentils with Toasted Walnuts and Goat Cheese

Ingredients: 6 servings – very easy recipe from the Food Channel, http://www.foodnetwork.com/healthy/packages/healthy-every-week.html with some of my adjustments – only 300 calories per serving!

1 cup du Puy Lentils, rinsed and soaked for 4-6 hours

1.5 cups vegetable broth

1 bay leaf

1 fresh thyme sprig

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 large red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots thinly sliced

2 stalks celery thinly sliced

Teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Pinch sea salt

¼ cup toasted walnuts

4 ounces goat cheese

2 inch piece kombu soaked for 5 minutes

Place kombu in a saucepan and cover with the lentils. Add the vegetable broth to cover lentils. If you need to add a bit more during cooking that is fine. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer, cook for 30 – 40 minutes until all liquid is cooked out and the lentils are tender.

While the lentils are cooking, heat olive oil in large skillet and saute the onion, carrots and celery until the onions are translucent, and the carrots and celery are crisp. Add the minced garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute. Add the balsamic vinegar to vegetable at the end of cooking and blend for about 1 minute.

When the lentils are cooked toss them with the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle the lentil mixture with chopped toasted walnuts and goat cheese and serve.

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Take a moment each day to simply be present in your body and smile sweetly…..it is very good for you and everyone around you!

Be well

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Springtime and EMDR

It is a lovely sunny day here in Massachusetts with the temperature promising to reach the mid 30s. It makes me smile when I think how fixated we New Englanders are on the weather…but when you manage to smile through the winter here I think you earn some bragging rights. We have seen many days this year when the temperature did not make it out of the single digits. That kind of prolonged cold can take the pep out of your walk. Winter carries a quiet beauty I would not want to miss but it is time for warmer weather now.

I had the blessing this past weekend of attending an EMDR part 1 (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) training in Hamden CT. with two of my dear colleagues. (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. It requires the practitioner to use intuitive skills along with traditional practice. It speaks to me as a healer. http://emdria2.affiniscape.com/index.cfm.

Being so close to Long Island Sound made me wish for Spring even more. The training was fantastic and my brain is literally full to bursting with new information to help others. When we return for the part 2 training it will be late April and Spring will be fully sharing her gifts.

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It’s time to start thinking about how my menu will begin to shift from the colder, quieter winter to vibrant, lively spring foods. This daylily is one of my favorite to show her pretty face in the late spring. I am so looking forward to spring and the new life she brings. My yard is beckoning to me to come play in the soil and return the Koi to the pond for the warmer season. It’s time to plan what will be planted in the vegetable garden and dream about which perennials will show their pretty faces first.

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One dish that I plan to prepare with some of my Health Coaching clients this weekend will be:

Bitter Greens with Shallots.

Particularly good in the spring when young greens can be found in abundance, this quick broth-sauté is cleansing for the lymph system and liver. It is blood building and a great overall tonic for the digestive system as well. Try using mustard, dandelion, arugula,  turnip, broccoli rabe, baby kale or baby collards. Serve as a side dish or toss with whole wheat pasta or soba noodles. It only takes 10 minutes to prepare and cook this dish and there are many health benefits.
Ingredients:
1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 large shallot, sliced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ pound young greens, cut into 1-inch strips

½ cup vegetable stock

2 teaspoons tamari

Preparation:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.Add greens, and toss gently to begin wilting them.

Add stock and tamari. Continue cooking until broth has reduced by about half and greens are tender, another 4 minutes.

Serve with remaining liquid drizzled over greens.

I may even serve some of my homemade organic Dandelion Wine with the meal. I can’t wait to get cooking!

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Peace is Every Step

Peace is every step

The shining red sun is my heart.

Each flower smiles with me.

How green, how fresh all that grows.

How cool the wind blows.

Peace is every step.

It turns the endless path to joy.

Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Be Well