Monday, December 30, 2013

Hara Hachi Bu

So every year my resolutions revolve around a better me, which usually involves a better waistline.

In 2014, I may try, before every meal, to say "Hara Hachi Bu," which means, "I will stop eating when I am 80% full."  This Japanese phrase, when faithfully practiced, supposedly, helps you consciously limit the amount of food you consume, making overeating less likely.  It also slights those uninvited guests - high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  There are many things you can do to remind yourself to say this, maybe set up phone alerts or obtain a new year's tat on your forearm. 

Another healthy choice would just be to make eating a mindful choice.  Focus on the food when it's in front of you.  The word "savor" was invented for just this reason.

The genetics card is a minor player - our longevity is 75% dependent on our lifestyle.

Other positive habits, as you know, include regular church attendance, volunteer efforts, sleeping, meditating.  (Uncovering my purpose may have to wait until 2015.)

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Holiday Gift

The essay below (thanks to Virginia for sending it to me!) is attributed to George Carlin...but he has denied it, and so do I...this is good, and he is good, but this is someone else (sadly serious) and has been forwarded in countless email chains - but during this time of holiday stress and expectations, it is a good reminder:
The Paradox of our Time

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, yet more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life, not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space, but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.

Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones; but most of all, mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

Remember - Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

What more need be said?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holiday Hangover Helper

Brought to you, by Proverbs 15:15 ~

"For the despondent, every day brings troubles.  For the happy heart, life is a continual feast..."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Friendly Reminder

A good reminder at this time of the year, when your loyalties are divided or you are missing someone or just trying to create the holiday magic:

Stress is caused by being "here" but wanting to be "there".   It is a split that tears you apart inside.    Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What We Take In

I must remember to stay in the present moment, to appreciate what's happening right now, even with a holiday list as long as my arm.

I find myself, with holiday plans stabilizing, already jumping ahead to thoughts of the new year.  I do hope to be a nicer person.  I resolve not to let my busyness mislead me.  I resolve other things, too, like to eat better, drink less, and break other hurtful habits, like fixating on what someone left unsaid. 

What are the other things we take in?  What comes in, consciously or when we are on autopilot?  I vow to be more selective - not only in what I ingest in my body but what I choose to take into my brain.  What is my experience and am I actually noticing?  Do I want to take in that gossip, that criticism, that conjecture?  Maybe...but I DO have a choice.

I have a choice to walk right around it.  Hasta la vista!

I have a choice to view this renewed mindfulness for what it is, with intention, and with curiosity and acceptance.


The following may or may not be related to this post, it depends on how you squint, but I do so like it:

"If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility."
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, December 13, 2013

Gifts at Christmastime

There's so much that comes with this special season - the decorating, the cards, the gifts, the food.

Sometime during the month, I always take time for a good holiday music cry (see the link below) - in between the pressures to attend holiday gatherings and to also set the stage for a magical experience for those who gather under our tree, those closest to me.  The shift away from what was familiar in my early years to making choices for my young family, to, now - to new traditions as our family changes - it's all healthy growth and I truly recognize it as the best gift, a life I notice, a life I choose.

Holiday rituals change, of course.  But clinging to the familiar can help too, like special tree ornaments and other treasures we discover as we unpack them once a year.  Also, I'm big on lighting cheap cinnamon candles and revisiting other favorite season perennials (hot chocolate with butterscotch schnapps is a good start).

Here's to a holiday of purpose, of unlimited possibilities, of celebration and reflection.  And hopefully some new scented lotion.
A treasure - Marie made this wreath for me.

My tree skirt, a special treasure made by my mom.

Sinead O'Conner - I Believe in You (watch it and you're welcome) -  tech tip:  you may need to find a device with Adobe FlashPlayer to watch this:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wine at 5!

provided by


Top 5 Ways To Cut Seasonal Stress and Have Fun! 

Wine_WIth_Friends_SmallHere come the holidays, and with them a nonstop circuit of feasting, festivities, friends and family. If you feel stressed during this busy time, here’s how to put some fun (and relaxation) back into the holidays:

  • Enjoy party favorites in moderation.
    If you’re headed to a party, you can still enjoy party snacks and a drink or two. Just remind yourself to stop eating when you are 80% full.
  • Wine at 5. Relax with friends over a glass of wine. Studies show that a glass of wine a day can boost your well-being and possibly even add years to your life.
  • Make time to move it! Stay active during the holidays. If possible, ride a bike or take a walk instead of driving. At work, take a walking break instead of grabbing coffee and a snack from the vending machine or goody tray. Walk the dog after dinner with your family and friends. Most importantly, stay active by doing what you enjoy.
  • Create time together. Make it a point to establish fun, family traditions, whether it’s baking holiday treats and delivering them to a senior center, or going ice skating on Christmas Eve. Do something that brings you closer to your family, friends, and community.
  • Remember to downshift. Schedule some time for yourself. Read a book, take the dog for a walk, or relax with friends.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advantage, Happiness

LYou can train your brain for optimism, to watch for things that make you grateful, to scan for positivity.  The more you do it, the more you get it.  It's available to all of us.

I've decided that in 2014, yes, sure, I'll try to lose weight.  But mostly, I will try to train my brain to look for goodness, to engage in activities that make me happy.

What we think will make us happy actually doesn't.  This was something I learned last week in a conference session entitled, The Happiness Advantage.  Some of what I learned was from the book by the same name, by Shawn Achor.

What we think will make us happy actually doesn't.  Happiness doesn't come from success, but rather happiness usually gets us to success.  Happy people are more likely to seize opportunities because the brain of the happy is usually more open to trying, more open to scanning for opportunities.  The result is the successful you because of the happy you (throw away that "happy because you are successful" notion, whatever that version of "successful").

A lot of us make mistakes, and relative to happiness, here are a few unconscious, negative ones:
1) trying to figure out if we're happy (the self-critic in evaluation mode, again and again);
2) overestimating the benefits of what we'll gain if we're happier;
3) pursuing happiness alone (doing things for others is an amazing antidote);
4) trying to find INTENSE happiness - this, of course, removes you from the present moment.

So are you happy?  Do you lose track of time because you are in "the flow"?  Doing your thing?  That's a sign you're truly happy.  Do you inventory your daily positive experiences?  That's you, in business for yourself, working on your own happiness.  It plays with that very influential cousin, gratitude.

Synthetic happiness is acceptable, take it.  You can synthesize it - make it up, find it, decide on it.  

Dan Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the common idea that you'll be miserable if you don’t get what you want, if you don't find it.  But he contends that you can feel true happiness even when things don't turn out the way you want.  For example, his research has shown that paraplegics and lottery winners, about a year after losing their legs and a year after winning the lottery, report about the same level of happiness.    

Now if you really want to work on happiness, take a minute, grab an ice cream or lollipop, and watch this (grab a tissue, too):


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Don't Tell Santa

They grew up.  They left.  I'm left with the wine I never drank when they were here.  When we were busy.

It hits on days like this.  Decorating the house.  Not a deadline in sight.  It's snowing and we aren't getting all worked up about the places we need to go, because we really do not have anywhere we have to go.  In the old days, there were so many chores of the advent season - cutting and decorating the tree, buying and wrapping the gifts, making and hiding the treats, waiting for my UPS hubby rock to get home.

But now, stumbling upon boxes of remnants of them, cards and decorations they made for me (evidence of our shared history, more valuable than my diamond ring), it's a different work.  It's less about perseverance and more about patient politeness.

We voted against Christmas music today because we could.  Because no one is watching and a little Gaga buoys us more than any carol.  We have all the festive we can stand.  Because the season really is on hold until the kids come home.

Now, before you start, you should know - I've done the reading - I know they are NOT responsible for my merry little Christmas.   I'm gracefully sharing them with new friends because they are all grown up!  The reasons they left me are every parent's dream, I know. Indulge me, it's the holidays.  I'll pass, instead, on the fudge.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

When Life Gives You lululemon

Just about the time this Santa's elf was grumbling over the price of their t-shirts (maybe I'm getting cranky, but $54?  really?) - I came upon this company manifesto and decided, maybe they ARE as cool as they're ubiquitous little logo:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Wait It Out

My inner geek was stirred when I heard about this British musician. Imogen Heap, who participated in The Gloves project - a gestural music experiment that uses magical, musical gloves and wires and mics and takes a stage performance to another digital dimension and music, perhaps, to new places.  More info here:

I'm actually not sure I like it, but the innovation is something curious and alluring.

The best part, though, was that in the process of learning about this I discovered someone new for my rotation, and a great song called "Wait It Out".  You must check this out. 

If you know anyone struggling in a relationship, this, coupled with a decent Italian red and an hour of mindless discretionary time, would be the kind of therapy that I would think could prove useful:

Wait It Out

Where do we go from here? How do we carry on?
I can't get beyond the questions
Clambering for the scraps in the shatter of us collapsed
It cuts me with every could have been
Pain on pain on play, repeating
With the backup makeshift life in waiting
Everybody says time heals everything
But what of the wretched hollow, the endless in between?
Are we just going to wait it out?
There's nothing to see here now, turning the sign around
We're closed to the earth till further notice
Stumbling cliché case, crumpled and puffy faced
Dead in the stare of a thousand miles
All I want only one street level miracle
I'll be a an out and out born again from none more cynical
Everybody says that time heals everything all in the end
What of the wretched hollow, the endless in between?
Are we just going to wait it out?
And sit here cold, we'll be long gone by then and lackluster
In dust we lay around old magazines
Fluorescent lighting sets the scene
For all we could and should be being in the one life that we've got
In the one life that we've got
Everybody says that time heals everything
What of the wretched hollow, the endless in between?
Are we just going to wait it out?
Sit here, just going to wait it out
Sit here cold, just going to sweat it out
Wait it out

Monday, December 2, 2013

Say It!

Gratefulness starts with quiet reflection, but sooner than later, you just gotta show it.  Gratefulness is not silent - you need to say it to really own it. There were many  sweet moments during our Thanksgiving holiday, including calls and texts from sisters and friends, my treasured guests core at my Thanksgiving table, lots of talking and not enough walking, and zero drama...and so I'm happy to say it...thank you (yes, you)!