Live, Laugh, Love and Breathe

Its be just over a month since my last post. Things are going well here. We're keeping to ourselves, using grocery pick up and fresh veg delivery to keep us going while this pandemic is running full force through our little state. I've been spending my time learning new things for my full time job, as well as working on my energy.  I've found a great YouTube channel that I highly recommend for playing all the time. Here's a look what this month has been.

My photography is going well. I'm not using a camera but instead using my Note 10 to capture all of the shots (except the screengrabs) in this blog and what I share on FB and Instagram.  Here are a few of those.






Now an update on our weight struggles.  Last month as I posted I fell of the wagon and had cheese.  This month, I've avoided all of that and have stayed true to my food goals. My scale died so I had to order a new one that finally arrived yesterday. This new one is supposed to sync with my Samsung Active, so far it isn't working.  We'll see how it goes. My weight is staying between 133 and 139. It isn't where I want to be.  I'm about 11 pounds from my goal weight which would put me at a normal BMI. But I have to accept that I'm 51 and that just may not be possible. 

This way of eating has certainly changed our lives. My gray hair is gone, Elijah used to have really thin hair and that's changed now.

     

I've begun (finally) working on his hair in the style he wanted. I've tried braiding it in a french braid but I really like this twist effect. It stays up nicely and looks great on him.  

It is inspired by hair from the History Channel show, Vikings.






We had a brief struggle with fresh veggies so we joined Misfits Market. This has been pretty successful. Basically they send you organic veggies that are on their last legs to try to lessen food waste in the US. Our boxes originate out of New Jersey and are scheduled to arrive on Tuesdays. This was the first week our box actually arrived on Tuesday. Usually it's Wednesday or Thursday. Over the 4th of July week our box didn't arrive at all. But we get a small box and for the price and the contents it is completely worth it.  Here are a few of our boxes.

       

















Our neighbor has also been dropping by with some fresh veg weekly and we picked up some fantastic local strawberries!  Its been a great addition to our meal prep.







This channel is amazing. It's called The Meditative Mind and offers an assortment of healing and cleansing chants, mantras and songs that will ease your body and mind into a constant meditative state. I have found that my intuition has increased, my blood pressure and stress has gone down and my ability to connect with the natural forces of the planet of increased 20 fold. If you have time, and I recommend you make time, stop and listen to some of these. Their library is endless.  They even have an 11 hour chant that I put on at bedtime to help me sleep.  It is so amazing.






I've been playing Wizard101 since it was created off and on.  Over the last six months Eli and I have gone back to spending our free time there.  Its really a great game, dubbed a kid's game but I see more adults playing than kids.  There's no random pvp and there is tons of content.  Here are a few screenshots from the game.








If you decide to play, let me know on Facebook.  Maybe we can team up and do some adventuring together.

Finally we've been making some really great recipes.  Eli is really working on his spice blends and these meals are turning out amazing. If you don't have the chops to make your own we highly recommend following Monkey and Me Kitchen Adventures on Facebook and checking out their website. They have really fantastic recipes. We try a new one from them usually once or twice a week and have not been disappointed.  Here are a few pics from our recreations of their amazing dishes.









Overall, it's been a pretty amazing month. I hope you're staying safe and taking the time you need to heal and reconnect with the energies of this amazing planet we live on.  Take a moment to smile at your fears, welcome them as part of you. Inhale and exhale. Just breathe.





Coming to Terms with Addiction

For years I have always known that the food we eat is laden with chemicals that cause our bodies harm. I knew that eating them could cause cancer, trigger bipolar manias and even cause death. Over the last two weeks I found out just how strong that addition is.



It started with just a veggie pizza with no cheese to full on stuffed mozzarella bread sticks. This past Tuesday I found myself sitting in my living room in tears because I felt so horrible. I felt my mania come back in full force with panic attacks, headaches and even that odd growth returning to my nose. I had eaten cheese on four occasions. 

My brain was so far back into the addition that I was ready to sit down and eat everything in sight.  My arms were killing me and my fibro was coming back.  I had eaten a total of 10 stuffed bread sticks over the 2 weeks and maybe 8-10 slices of pizza.  Just that little bit and I was completely hooked again.  I even gained 5lbs. The oil that came through after my trips to the bath room was frightening.

Today, four days after my wake up and stopping the diary, I find myself in a much better place. I've been stuffing myself with blueberries and green tea to try to clean this junk out of my system. My mania has passed and I feel so much better.  No more panic and anxiety. No more pain in my arms.  I really believe, if not the chemicals, then the emotion in the milk from those poor cows does immediate damage to our body. 

When I say to you, I understand why you can't give up meat.  I understand why it is so hard to stop cheese, believe me, I am saying this as one junkie to another. Those things are intentionally addictive. They want you to crave them so strongly that even as you sit in pain and depression you reach for it and add it into your body just like any other drug.



You can however break the cycle.  It isn't easy, but you can do it. If you need support, message me. I'll help you. I'll listen. I won't judge.  I know what it is like to be in that position. Here are some tips to help.

1. Remove all the junk from your house - throw it in the trash!
2. Sign up for a fresh veggie delivery service - I use Misfits Market
3. Pick up an Instant Pot - Great for beans and potatoes
4. Find a support person - You can message me!
5. Be kind to yourself - Everyone makes mistakes



Remember, nothing is forever.  Things are always changing and you can either resist the change or accept the change. Opt for the things that bring you peace. You have the power within you to happy. You just have to accept it. 

Hang in there!





Somewhere Over the Rainbow

So it's almost been a month since I posted my last piece about the stay at home orders.  Today I sit here listening to the news as they report on protesters demanding to open up diners and hair salons. I hear people complaining that they haven't had their hair dyed or their nails done and it is the same as being in prison. It is so odd to me that the people protesting are not the people who work those jobs. And aren't those the same jobs that people always complain about when they want $15 an hour? Now all of a sudden they appear to be pretty damn important to people.

For us this month has pretty much been the same.  The only change was that our weekly trips to the market for fresh fruit and veg were completely cut out.  Today we ventured out and picked up apples and a huge flat of strawberries. It was so wonderful to have those things back in the house. We're set up for a few more weeks but I can tell you that we solid ran out of just about everything before heading out to the stores. I was amazed at the number of people not distancing themselves from each other. Not a lot of folks wearing masks either. We scurried in and out taking out produce and heading back home.



Last week I took a week off from work to get some things done around the house.  We managed to get several above ground beds in and planted lots of veg. We did some trimming on some of the trees around the house and got the yard ready for spring. 

  

 


Eli is still perfecting our zero waste.  He came up with a great recipe for crackers made from the oat milk he makes each day. They turned out amazing!

  


Overall, I'm pretty surprised at where we are right now. Life is very good for us. I feel a strange sense of calm and ease even though when I read the news it appears the world is falling apart. 

Last week my aunt Sandra passed away.  She was the aunt that every one always told me I was just like. She was pretty amazing.  Over the last 5 years, we had a bit of a falling out. In the end we made a mends for that but when we came back from New Mexico, she didn't want us to come over or help at all with her.  She was someone I always looked up to when I was a child. As an adult, I learned that a lot of times when you put people up so high, it is a really big fall.  She was diagnosed with cancer about a year before we left and was in Chemo until the end. One of my sisters was with her when she died. I hate that she had to suffer but they did tell me that she was on morphine at the end so there's that. 

This is an older picture of us.  The first is of me in El Cajon some 17 years ago. Just amazing.  The second photo is her around the same time frame.



I'm not as sad as I thought I might be, when I thought about her dying in the past. I would have thought that I would be bawling my eyes out. But, that just isn't what is happening now.  I'm actually glad.  I'm happy she's not hurting any more. Death isn't the end of life.  Today she is here in the same way she was two weeks ago.  A flower is a flower, but it is also the sun and the rain.  It is the soil around it.  The flower is the sum of all the parts around it and we cannot remove one of the parts.  Without the sun we could not have the flower. It is this inter-being I think that makes me feel that we need to stop concentrating on the suffering and instead, be here.  Be right here, right now in the present moment to fully learn that we have everything we need to be happy. 

Everything.

So I sit here today.  With my strawberries and my rainbow.  I sit here with my dogs.  I sit here with my husband and I am present. I am in this moment right now.  I breathe in - Calm    I breathe out - Ease.  Maybe that's the magic.  Finding our place, where we can just be.









Should We Go Back to Normal?

This morning I woke from a dream. A dream of friends gathering and behaving as though this pandemic wasn't real. Friends sharing hugs and kisses all the while asking me if I knew anyone who was sick. In my dream I was angry. I was frustrated by their lack of knowledge on how viruses work. As I became confrontational in my dream, my eyes began to open and I drifted slowly back into an awakened state. Laying there, my mind continued to wander. Questions flooded my head. Is this going to get better?  How many people are going to suffer? Will we ever go back to normal? 
Maybe a better question is, should we?


In a few short months our society has stopped consuming so much. We have started to work from home, reducing energy costs and showing marked improvement in our environment. We have stopped shopping everyday and are spending more time with our family and pets. While there are some who have been placed in significant danger around this, the majority are in good positions. 

Should we go back to racing out the door to get stuck in traffic to do a job at a desk that we could do at home? Should we consume so much meat and dairy that millions of animals suffer every single day?  Should we have so many appointments that we cannot enjoy the spring sunshine or listen to the mockingbird song?

It is only about 17 days of my cut off from going out and about. I have worked at home for 13 years.  I use video conferencing regularly and have worked on several personal projects using the same. I'm extremely lucky to have a partner that adore and who I share many hobbies with. I don't miss going out, yet.


I'm privileged that I don't have to expose myself. Others are not so lucky. I have family who work in the "essential worker" categories who post about who nasty and rude people are to them, while they risk exposure to do their jobs. Three months ago people in these roles were told they did not deserve a living wage. This month they are called essential. The food service industry, the supply chain workers, truck drivers and grocery/retail all generally told, if they want to survive they should get real jobs are now the foundation of survival during this crisis. 

As a society we have forgotten our humanity. We have neglected our job as stewards of the earth. We have stopped  caring for ourselves with kindness which allows the seeds of anger and sadness to grow. Our greed for non essentials have pushed our planet to the breaking point. Rivers polluted, animals slaughtered and global suffering. 

I remember my grandmother telling me a story of her youth. She live in a house the no indoor plumbing as a girl. She was responsible for getting the chicken for Sunday dinner. Her eyes would close slightly as her mind drifted back to the time she pulled the feathers off the bird and prepped it to be eaten. She would catch the chicken in the yard. Cut off its head and dress it. 

One a week. One chicken. 

As I look out my window today tractor trailer trucks drive by with hundreds of birds shoved into same cages headed to the slaughterhouse. They have never touched grass or experienced life outside the cage. 

Maybe this is our flood. Maybe this is our wake up call. I am sitting in the subtle irony of mega storms, earthquakes and a global pandemic while watching this group blame that group. Our leaders blatantly disregard facts and lie to protect their hordes stacks of coins while the real joy of life slips through their fingers. 

All I can do is shake my head in disbelief. 

This may be our chance to make some real change on this planet. We can rethink our approach to food production. We can restructure our supply chain and refocus our consummation into sustainability. We can focus on the arts and make working in "essential" jobs not just a living wage, but a thriving wage. 

Maybe going back to normal isn't the best idea. 

Normal, for us is a fast track to extinction. Extinction of kindness.  Extinction of humility. Extinction of humanity. 

Spring

I'm doing a bit of self examination lately. Our world is not the same place it was 3 months ago. My biggest concern then was related to our house and when to schedule my next vacation. I was focused on getting myself ready for a possible move to a new location and opening up new opportunities for our future.

Buddha statue with incense bowl on a glass disk next to an acorn and a thimble
Photo Credit Renee Sosanna Olson


Today we're actually talking about rationing items and not going out in public due to this virus.  The interesting thing is that I actually more worried about how other people are going to respond to this new stress more so than the actual virus itself.  I'm not saying or down playing the virus by any means. This is a very serious situation. I still see people on social media yelling that its a hoax or trying to turn it into a political issue. We need to really focus on what this is doing to our humanity.

Simple things such as supply chains seem to be totally foreign to the general public. If everyone went out at any time (virus or no) and purchased all of a specific product, that product would be scarce. Then it becomes a cycle. Because no one can get it, the next that comes in flies off the shelves and then it just repeats itself.  Panic buying leads to scarcity, which leads to more panic. Hoarding is something we as a society look at as being a negative, yet when billionaires hoard the nations wealth we call them successful.

Eastern Redbud Blossoms
Photo Credit Renee Sosanna Olson


As the blossoms on the trees begin to open up and the bees are flying about, take a moment to think about what you want to bring into this world today. What do you want to put out there.  I'm leaning towards sharing some happiness and positive energy.  I want those without to have what they need. I want those with to share what they can. I want those who need it, to realize happiness in there within them. Together we can move forward and make this world a better place. We have all that we need within us. We just need to open up and see it.

Wishing you a fruitful spring.

Melting Pot Boils Over - Racism Today


Dedication ceremony for the sculpture of Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Magnolia Grove Monastery. Photo by Paul Davis



I want to feel integrated within myself, just feeling like all parts of myself can be present. But sometimes it’s hard to feel a sense of belonging when people tell us that we’re different or “not normal”. The work that ARISE is doing is to create an openness and a space of belonging for everyone.

— Brian, Multi-heritage, Queer, Person of Color

For more information on ARISE follow this link.

I wanted to write a bit about The recent drama around a Target commercial is making news. Beatrice Dixon, the founder of The Honey Pot was shown in a commercial for Black History month. Now white people are posting comments on her page and review sites trying to destroy her business. 

Here is the commercial.



The Honey Pot has a really great product in that they are all plant based and are available at a variety of retailers such as Target, Walmart and Whole Foods just to name a few.  As the controversy grew, I took some time to check our their website. I donate often to groups that provide resources for the homeless, and I was pleasantly surprised that this company offers support for those without access to feminine hygiene products. Another great reason to support this company.




I grew up in the 70s and 80s. I watched the shows and learned about the melting pot, while hearing my stepfather complain about black people in a derogatory way.



My school was mostly white while my teachers were mostly black. Being raised in the Confederate South I never knew about slavery or the struggles that I non-white people experienced.  I was ignorant to what white people had done and still continue to do to non-whites.  In my late thirties I began to learn more about American history and began to educate my self on what messages were left out of our history books.

As I begin to look into myself and take accountability for my actions I also have started to see where as a society we need to come together and realize just how horrible we gave been to each other.  We as white people, including and sometimes specifically white women, have used our positions of privilege to oppress and in some cases directly attack black people and people of color.

This lead to a discussion on my Facebook page where I tried to sum up my opinion with the following comment:

I agree that all should be supported. In this case she was commenting about what representation she had as a child. No black women were visible to her as successful entrepreneurs. When I was a child I only saw white men as being the ones who had the power or rules the household. Today I am a very successful primary breadwinner and I never knew that was possible. I want to be a role model for those raised in my similar circumstances that they do not have to stay in them. They can overcome where they are and become more. I cannot be a role model for black girls because I have no way of understanding the black experience. My perspective will always be one of privilege. I have no concept of what it feels like to be black.  I can only pass the mic and not speak for them but instead amplify their voices. She didn't say white girls shouldn't be successful. She didn't say only black girls should be successful. She said, I want to be a role model for black girls so they can see they have opportunities too. There is nothing wrong with that statement. We as white people have to understand  that not everything has to include us. We do not deserve to be included. If we look at history we take been front and center in the lives of black girls. They didn't even have dolls until the 60's and 70's that represented their skin tones. Little girls and boys are still being singled out for the way their hair naturally comes out of their head. We have had our say. I stand by my statement and fully support her for feeling she needs to be a role model for black girls. This isn't a job white people are qualified for.

We have a choice as white women to continue to stick our heads in the sand, preach messages like "I don't  see color" all the while benefiting from institutionalized racism or we can begin to allow this system to change. It starts with not speaking over marginalized voices. Stop getting defensive when black women support black women. Read about the Black experience. look up Black Wall Street.  Read The New Jim Crow.

We have the real history at our fingertips.  Forget what you though you knew and begin to learn again. There is no shame in admitting you were once ignorant on a subject. Shame comes with remaining ignorant.

What are the steps we can take?

Listen.
Read.
Learn.
Breathe.

https://arisesangha.org/

Monday Meditation - Strive

On the title of my blog page I have the following subtitle:

UNDERSTAND . RELEASE . OVERCOME . STRIVE


Image Credit - http://buddhismpathtowellbeing.blogspot.com/


I created this as a way to help me learning the Four Noble Truths. For me it was easier to remember if I had just one word for each of the truths. This is the fourth of four blog posts related to the Four Noble Truths.

So we know that suffering happens.  We know that attachment is the source of our suffering and we know that there is an end to that suffering.  Next we're going to look at how we end that suffering.  Magga is the way to end suffering.


This video contains information on both the Third and Fourth Noble Truths.


I chose strive here because this is what I try to do for this truth.  The final truth is that we have a path to the end of suffering. If we follow that path we can end suffering.  The Noble Eight-fold Path shows us the way to end suffering.



The Noble Eight-fold Path tells us how to  end suffering.

Image Source - Quora.com



If we have the right view, the right intention, the right speech, the right action, the right livelihood, the right effort, the right concentration and the right mindfulness, each and everyone one of us can end suffering.

As always, your comments are welcome.  Feel free to post here or continue to use the form or email to send your questions/discussions.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Photo Credit Renee Olson
Here I sit on my 51st birthday a changed person.  My life is no where near what it was like 5 years ago. This journey has been amazing.  I have spent the this time reviewing books, managing a business and a Facebook Page.  I have decided that, I've done enough of that. Those things no longer bring me joy. I'll still write or draw but going forward I think I'm going to just limit my time online and try to do things that connect me with the world as opposed to doing things that cause me to hide.

I'm going to be outside more and maybe even start taking photos again. I'm going to make art and enjoy making art. I'm going to love right here and right now. Instead of waiting for the next thing to happen, I'm going to go make it happen.  It's time for a change, and there's no time like the present.


Monday Meditation - Overcome

On the title of my blog page I have the following subtitle:

UNDERSTAND . RELEASE . OVERCOME . STRIVE


Image Credit - http://buddhismpathtowellbeing.blogspot.com/


I created this as a way to help me learning the Four Noble Truths. For me it was easier to remember if I had just one word for each of the truths. This is the third of four blog posts related to the Four Noble Truths.

So we learned that there is suffering in life.  We learned that attachment is the source of our suffering. Next we're going to look at Nirodha. Nirodha is the truth of the end of suffering. This means that yes, we all suffer but suffering can end.




I chose the word overcome here because I wanted to remind myself that I can overcome suffering. I have that power within me.  We know that suffering can end. We do not have to continue to suffer. There is an end. All we need to remember is that the Third Noble Truth is that there is an end to suffering.


How do we end it?  That's covered in our next section on the Four Noble Truths.

As always, your comments are welcome.  Feel free to post here or continue to use the form or email to send your questions/discussions.