Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ever Present

Ever present
You are the wave
The flow in motion
You are the thunder
crying out against injustice

Ever present
You are the wind
breathing the breath of inspiration
You are the quiet
offering healing solace.

Ever present
You are the Source
The life-bringer of Spring
You are the Circle
moving in cycles of life and death.

Ever present
You are within us
We are the Circle
moving in cycles of life and death.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Halloween...on the way!

Karl has started decorating the house for Halloween. We couldn't resist the cool temperatures, changing leaves, and rainy weather to find our inner spooky!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Healthy Days Continued

Today was a milemarker day in the results of my healthy eating and exercise. I've lost ten pounds since I've begun keeping track in my food journal and I'm consistently eating more healthy food choices. (Yeah for tangible results)There is still a challenge in getting consistent exercise due to the demands of my profession, parenthood, and other obligations.

The other result of making good food and exercise choices is that I feel like I am taking care of myself. There is more balance in my life and I'm thinking more about my actions and the consequences. Being healthy is the whole package - a healthy mind, body, and spirit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Getting ready for General Assembly

I've looked over the program and I've google calendered the workshops and events I'll be attending. Now I need to pack the right clothes for Arizona heat!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Healthy Days Continued

This week I've been focusing one eating more raw foods. I have my best success by packing my lunch and having enough variety in the house that I don't get bored!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

100 Days of Focus on Health: Day 26 (accountability)

Journalling what I eat is continuing to make me more mindful of what I'm eating. I've also started using the dreaded scale daily to see that I'm heading in the right direction. My other measures are how well I can keep up in my exercise classes and my general feeling of well-being. I'm am holding myself accountable to my goal of better health by keeping these measures.

Monday, April 30, 2012

100 Days of Focusing on Health: Day 26

"The large print giveth and the small print taketh away." -Tom Waits. Today my healthy focus has been reading labels. Even stopping to read labels takes away your desire to impulse eat. I'm also trying to eat more raw and whole foods that don't have labels at all, except what nature made! Activity: Kickboxing class and yoga class Results: Down 2.3 lbs since I've started food journalling and keeping count of weight loss.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

100 Days of Focus on Health: Day 25 (food journalling)

Last Friday, I travelled with Kiernan and my Mother-in-law to Minneapolis for Kiernan's dance competition. We stopped on the way for a bite to eat and the obligatory book store rummange. In this book-seeking, I found a really neat food journal in a local bookstore in Hudson, Wisconsin. It has a place to write down what you eat each day as well as your daily activity. This means that you need to have a daily activity! I also like that it has different positive thoughts on fitness and prompts to make goals. This is my third day of keeping a food journal. It definitely keeps you in mind of what you are putting into your mouth. On a positive note, it has also allowed me to see the progress I've already made towards eating a more nutritional diet. This is another big step in accountability for me, to commit to paper what I'm eating and doing each day will further keep me on track.

Friday, April 20, 2012

100 Days of Focus on Health: Day 24(healthy eating)

For the past few days I have especially been focusing on the snacks I eat. I am trying to eat fruit, hummus and carrots, sunflower seeds, or a vegetable. Otherwise I'm avoiding processed foods and the quick snacks that have a lot of sugar and carbohydrates. I find that honoring what I'm eating makes me feel better about my health and how I am treating myself.

I am about to travel for the day again, so I will pack some healthy snacks to take with me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

100 Days of Focus on Health: Day 23 (travel)

I have been posting less than I'd like due to some illness and just being busy, but here is another one! This weekend I will be travelling to Minneapolis for a conference. Travelling is a time when it is hard to eat well, get enough rest, and exercise. I will be packing fruit and nut snacks, as well as sandwiches for the ride up to Minneapolis.

My goal is to not drink soft drinks or eat fast food, which are the quick temptation while driving. Kiernan will be travelling with me, so I'll have to remind him why we don't eat junk and make extra time to eat real food. Due to illness I have not been able to work out this week, hopefully I will get a chance for a walk this weekend.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

100 Days of Focusing on Health Day 22 (trust)

In kickboxing class last Wednesday, I had a revelation that I am learning to trust my body. When I was a child I knew how high I could climb on a pine tree and how fast I could run around the bases in a softball game before falling down or running out of breath. As an adult I have trusted my mind to think quickly or my heart to know the right choice. I have not depended on my body as much. Certainly having children qualifies in this area, but I haven't really pushed myself on a regular basis. Being a whole and healthy person should include a deep awareness of my entire self.

I look forward to trusting in my endurance and strength as I bike that extra mile. I look forward to knowing I can swim one more lap than I did the day before. This is my health trajectory, and it takes trust to get there.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

100 Days of Focusing on Health: Day 21 (reframing)

Easter is on the horizon -perhaps you have noticed the aisles and aisles of candy. I have bought my boys a lot of books this year for their Ostara baskets, along with fun pencils and school supplies. There will be some wonderful chocolate eggs, but we really don't need a Hershey branded holiday thank you. Commercialism and sugar seems to be the focus of too many holidays.

I definitely remember my childhood basket filled with sweets, but I also enjoyed getting a stuffed bunny or new Spring things. It was great to dye Easter eggs and see what swirls or designs we could manage. I enjoyed hunting for eggs in the bright sunshine and finding an egg before some other kid did. There are fond memories of daffodils and the ever sweet promise of the rebirth of the green spring-time.

I want my children to experience more than a sugar hang-over. We can reframe holidays to fit our values and make them meaningful.

Monday, April 2, 2012

100 Days of Focusing on Health: Day 20 (body)

The wonderful thing about kickboxing class is you don't have a lot of time to think about which way to kick. You kick. You don't ponder the theology of your right hook - you jab, you punch. I spend a lot of time in the world of ideas as a minister, writer and general nerd. It is a natural and comfortable place to be in my mind and pondering.

My intention with exercise is to inhabit my body, and to inhabit the the right now. I want to know the intensity of pushing my body to the limit. I want to feel the grace of a well-executed kick and the strength and confidence that comes with it.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

100 Days of Focusing on Health: Day 19 (moving meditation)

Later today I have a sitting meditation class, but this morning I will try and focus on walking meditation. Since the weather is nice, I'll head down to the Phoenix Park labyrinth after I drop my boys off at school. Perhaps walking this outer path will help me also on my inner path. It will be a peaceful way to start the day.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

100 Days of Focusing on Health: Day 18 (Crossroads)

We all have times in our life that feel important. This is one of those times for me. I feel like I am making some changes in my life that are carrying me down a different path than before. These are good choices, but there is an inertia that resists change. The crossroads are full of symbology, a place of waiting and a place of choice. The god Hermes,son of Zeus and god of travel, was reputed to linger at the crossroads. I feel very strongly that I am at a crossroads in my life. The choices I make now will determine the road I travel.

Am I willing to make hard choices? Am I willing to commit to the hard road? When you choose a road, you leave another way of being behind. Then of course, there is the promise of the road ahead.

In most cultures it is a significant place of meeting with transcendent powers (gods, spirits, the dead). It is often close to the symbolic content of the door, since the crossroads can also symbolize the necessary transition to the new (from one phase of life to another; from life to death). To win the favor of the gods or spirits, obelisks, altars, or stones were erected, or inscriptions were placed at crossroads. Practically everywhere in Europe crossroads were also regarded as the meeting place of witches and evil demons. For this reason, Christians have erected at crossroads crosses, chapels, and statues of the Madonna and the saints. Among many African tribes the symbolism of the crossroads plays a significant role in ritual acts. In Greek mythology Oedipus slays his father at a crossroads. The Greeks made sacrifices to a goddess of the (three-way) fork in the road who was often represented in triple form: Hecate, goddess of ghosts and magic, who was also closely associated with the realm of the dead. The statue of Hermes, the psychopomp (spirit guide) stood guard at crossroads and forks in the road.

(Above is an excerpt from the entry for Crossroads in "The Herder Symbol Dictionary."
Translated by Boris Matthews. Chiron Publications, Wilmette, Illinois.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

100 Days of Focusing on Health: Day 17

I've changed the title of my blog theme to focusing on health. The focus of this writing exercise for me is to build a healthy lifestyle built around mindfullness. I want to make healthy choices for my mind, body, and spirit. This will lead to healthy habits, but I think that will be the second step. It takes time to build habits, and right now I am developing the focus and attention to health.

Perhaps I can report at the end of this exercise what healthy changes and habits have manifested from this focus on health.

This week my intention is to pack balanced/healthy lunches for myself and the boys with more vegetables and raw foods. I also want to think about the cooperative process of what I put into my body and why. Where is the balance between pleasure in eating and the over balance of eating for distraction, boredom, or to fill an emotional need? What are the other ways in which I can reward myself? What are the other ways in which I can be filled/find enjoyment? (Poetry, beauty, walking in nature, writing and reading...)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits- Day 16

Today my intention is to drop my shoulders! My chiropractor back in Georgia always told me that I need to do that and now my new chiropractor keeps advising it. I don't need to carry the world on my back like a turtle. I need to release my stress and move fluidly through my day.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits- Day 15

Today my intention has been to slow down. Too often the hurry of a day takes over everything and leads to poor choices and reactive thinking. As much as possible, I want to leave space in my mind for thinking, reflecting, and processing before I jump to a conclusion or action. There is not always time for this type of thinking, but I am reminded that if I give myself space and time - my thoughts and actions will reflect more positively on my values and "who I am."

In meditation class today, I was wrestling the monkey mind. I found a recurring question coming into my thoughts. "What is important to me?" My mind settled when I realized it was that moment that was important. On this day let this present moment be sufficient. Let this present moment be all that it can be.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits: Day 14

My intention today was to get through the burn. Who knew that doing the breast stroke and exercising in a pool for an hour and a half was going to kill me more than zumba or kickboxing. It is a whole different muscle set. Today I can feel most of my back muscles and my legs complaining. Yet we went back to the pool today for round two. I'm also trying to get Kiernan to practice swimming. Both boys need to strengthen their swimming skills, as apparently do I!

I'm proud that I went back for day two. Tommorow will be day 3 of swimming. Maybe one day I can look this cool...

Monday, March 19, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits- Day 13

Today's intention is to go with the flow of Spring Break! The boys really want to swim a lot this week, and I can't argue with that. So I'll be pulling out the bathing suit, once I can find it amid all of our packing bins. Luckily the YMCA has a generous free swim schedule this week!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits- Day 12

Today's intention is to keep it real! I can build more activity and exercise into my everday life. Exercise for me often entails an elaborate gym class. I like to be worn out by Zumba or kickboxing or blissed out by yoga. Now that the weather is nice, there are more options for activity. Our family took a walk in the nice breezy evening air. We got to see some soon to be budding flowers and lots of leafy trees. It has been wonderful to enjoy this rare warm March in Wisconsin.

I don't have to schedule exercise at the gym for it to happen. This morning I did a few leg stretches before getting out of bed. I am sure I can find ways to make activity happen outside of a formal environment. It will help me keep exercise going, even when I'm too busy for a scheduled gym class.

Friday, March 16, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits- Day 11

Today's intention is to remember the healthy place of silence. Silence is the balm to all the noise that disturbs our calm and focus. Yesterday I had the great gift to meditate in Rev. Virginia Wolf's meditation class at UUC. I felt like my entire world was reset by connecting with my breathing and settling into the silence. There are very few moments of true silence in my day or when it is okay for me not to speak. Silence is one more essential habit to health and balance.

Words by Tim Haley

Amid all the noise in our lives,
we take this moment to sit in silence --
to give thanks for another day;
to give thanks for all those in our lives
who have brought us warmth and love;
to give thanks for the gift of life.
We know we are on our pilgrimage here but a brief moment in time.
Let us open ourselves, here, now,
to the process of becoming more whole --
of living more fully;
of giving and forgiving more freely;
of understanding more completely
the meaning of our lives here on this earth.

I've got a link to a sermon I did recently about silence. I was inspired first by a wonderfully written sermon by the Rev. Marti Keller on the subject matter of this book.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits- Day Ten

Day 10 is all about keeping up with the habits I've begun. I have a bottle of water on my desk and I brought my lunch to the office today. Lunch consisted of an orange, granola, sunflower seeds, and minestrone soup.

I have to be patient with the process of letting all of these habits do their work. Each day I stick to my intentions and focus on overall health, I am on the right path. It is a day by day journey of focusing on the big picture of happiness and a healthy life.

Monday, March 12, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits- Day Nine

This day's healthy habit focus is finding healthy rewards. I remember too often having food rewards as a child and have used this mindset as an excuse for eating extra sugary goodies. There are other rewards that do not sabotage my exercise and health goals in the same way. I love books, and a trip to the bookstore is a very great treat. I also love magnetic bookmarks for my non-digital books.

Instead of rewarding myself with a cookie or chocolate, I will think of another choice.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits- Day Eight

Last night at our congregation we had a teal hymnal sing along after a pancake supper. The songs were lively and interesting, but a challenge in their complexity and rhthym. We had fun practicing the different parts and learning together. It felt great to join my voice with others and express the feeling and words of these deep songs. Yesterday, I made the choice to write and submit an article to the local paper rather than go to the gym. I wrestled with my desire to express myself and my other equal need for physical expression.

I want to be intentional about the habit of expression. Too often we bottle up things for another day and a better time. I don't want to shove away my creativity and silence my voice because my "to do" list is too long. I want to sing with others, express my feelings, and also find time to kickbox. Is this too much to ask? There must be a balance in there somewhere.

So today's healthy habit focus is expression...finding the balance in that!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits- Day Seven

You will notice that these "100 Days" posts will not be sequential - demonstrating another healthy habit of observing sabbath time. When I took my yoga class on Monday, I felt very connected to my feet. We don't really pay our feet much attention, yet they support us and carry us through the world.

My teacher begins yoga classes by encouraging her students to rub their feet. We rub an essential oil into our feet and toes. Then we begin to stretch and massage each foot, paying attention to tensions and the condition of our feet. This is a very simple act, but it feels like supreme self-care. I am trying to build this habit of paying attention to the body that supports me, and giving it the care it needs.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits- Day Six

Goal - 25% of my diet being raw foods.

I have been a vegetarian for over a year now. It has been something I've slowly moved towards over the years and I made the final commitment over Thanksgiving 2010. Becoming a vegetarian means that I need to eat more vegetables, not simply consume more pasta or processed foods. I've been increasing raw foods in my diet and my current goal is for raw food to be twenty-five percent of my diet.

Raw foods are simply fruits, vegetables, seeds, and other unprocessed, uncooked natural foods. I've been eating more fruit, nuts, salad, and raw vegetables as my snacks and with my main meals. Today I ate grapefruit, mixed greens salad, a banana, and some granola along with my favorite hummus and other vegetarian standbys.

With eating more raw food, I feel more connected to what I'm eating. It isn't some artifical flavor, sweetner, or red dye number 8000. Raw foods require less preparation and are easy to pack into a lunch or a snack at work. It fits into the simple lifestyle that I am trying to move towards.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits- Day Five:

When you are struggling with stress in your day - find your calm. Without the availability of a really good yoga class, my way to do that is to go to the library or local book store and find a good book. I love to sink into the quiet library atmosphere and wander down aisles of books until the right one calls my name. I walk around with my bag of books like a treasure hunter with a nose for gold. Of all material things, books are truly the greatest treasure for me. I love to re-read my favorite authors and discover new plots, adventures, and worlds in my new book finds.

I have a stack of books waiting right now...

Friday, March 2, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits - Day Four:

Make time for love! Tonight we are going on a date night. We will be going out to Shanghai Bistro and also to see Into The Woods at the University.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits Day Three:

Pack a lunch! You save money, eat more balanced foods, and create less consumer waste.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits Day Two:

‎100 Days of Healthy Habits Day Two: The whole family shovelled today. Finding ways to turn everyday chores into time together and exercise is a habit we are working towards.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

100 Days of Healthy Habits

I have been trying to get serious about fitness and health for a long time. To help this along, I'm going to start blogging and facebooking about building healthy habits and my progress in this area.

100 Days of Healthy Habits - Day One: Carrying a water bottle around to drink water all day.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Finding the Sacred In Nature

I grew up in Irmo, South Carolina which is a suburb of Columbia. Despite being in a suburb, I was lucky to have miles of woods behind my house. Early in life I grasped a sense of the sacred in nature. I sensed something unspoken in the whisper of pines as my eyes peered up at the sky through needles and filtered sunlight. I felt something magical as I broke across the rising mist in early morning walks in the bend of the Broad river. I didn't need any complicated theology to see the divine and the good in life in those moments. I could hear frogs and crickets in the evenings. I spent sun-burnt summer days building forts, and playing flash light tag among the fireflies and pines. My favorite time in the woods was to make my way to the river just as the sun broke the sky, and the mist still cast mysterious coverings against the trees. I would sit on river rocks, mindless of moccasins or the rush of the river. I look back on those wild moments of my childhood and taste a freedom I struggle to find again.

There was some elemental understanding of my connection with those woods, that river, and the pulse of life. Time was measured in how far the sun had risen in the sky, not the constant checking of cell phones and calendars. I would come home baked in mud, my mom would hose us down before she'd let my sister and I back into the house. These were simple joys and beautiful days.

Water, earth, air, fire – and spirit. So elemental and basic, yet we lose touch behind our computer screens and the pace of a hurried life. It is easy to think that we can separate ourselves, and remove ourselves from the cycles of nature. Yet, the hurricane reminds us. The rainbow reminds us. We must be reminded of our sacred connection, if we can possibly hope to find some balance in our life on this small, blue planet.

Every small action of conservation and thoughtful choice that we take in remembrance of our sacred relationship is a hopeful action.

Whether we stand in the ancient shadow of redwoods or listen to the whispering wind in a pine tree forest, it is hard to not have gratitude for the offerings of nature. Trees give shade, offer places for nests, fruit and sustenance, and hold the soil together against the rush of storm and water. Like mother's milk, our rivers course from the water's source at the tops of mountain peaks and trickle down to oceans and lakes.

Take time in this season of winter to take in the beauty of Carson Park or go for a walk by the river.

Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hahn said, “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.”

We won't find the same miracles behind the glass of our windshield or stuck to our computer as we will find in seeing the arc of an eagle's flight. Our lives are so much more beautiful and rich when we can connect with the beauty and awe of the natural world. These are the moments we remember and that can bring us deep peace and joy.