Monthly Archives: August 2010

Life for free.

"The best things in life are for free". I’m sure we’ve all heared this line at some point of our lives, yet we either run by it unnoticed or we simply say that it isn’t true because the best thing in life is owning a 5 million $ mansion or having a Gucci bag the costs us our 3 monthes pay-check. We always tend to think of material things when we say "for free". What we failed to learn and teach our children, and am saying this with great disappointment in myself and the world around me, is that life is filled with simple pleasures the little satisfying effects you never really anticipate, but always take great pleasure in. They are the gifts of life that we throw at the far back of our closets every single day. I am going to just give a few examples of these simple pleasures hoping that you guys will embrace every moment and celebrate every event with your loved ones or even just on your own:

-Realizing how beautiful you really are – no matter how ugly people may make you out to be, no matter of what you were lead to believe in the past. Love yourself, you are beautiful.

-Hearing the right song at the right moment – It doesn’t matter what the setting is, hearing the right song for that moment is one of those simple pleasures in life that instantly lifts your spirits. You could be driving home from work, hanging out at a coffee place with friends, or jogging. When the right song rattles your ear drums the entire meaning of life seems crystal clear.

-Your mother FINALLY getting on the Internet – I mean come on!!!! lol. Don’t we all want our mothers to get on the internet instead of nagging us every chance they get about turning into zombies because of how much time we spend on the network. Let them try it and we’ll see who’s gonna nag who!!:P

-Finding money you didn’t know you had – You reach into your pocket and find a $20 bill from the last time you wore these jeans. You aren’t rich, but you are richer than you were a second earlier. AHA!! lol.

-Spending time with your friend in complete silence – There is nothing like being with ur BFF in a room and you’re both not saying a word to each other. You are comfortable, you know that there is no awkwardness in your silence and you don’t feel obligated.

-Laughing at a comdey flick while watching it alone – Yeeaaah!! been there, done that!! and i tell you it feels amazing. You feel like you are burning energy and at the same time you are recharging it with positive energy. Plus you can laugh as much as you want and no one will tell you to shush you :P!!

-Having a dog or a cat like you from the first time u meet!! lol – Personally, i’m not a very big fan of cats but i am a sucker for dogs. It’s nice how they warm up to you on your first encounter with them. You go like "Yeah, dogs like me" ;).

-Looking at your baby pictures and wondering "I was cute, what the hell happened??!!" – HaHa!! been there, done that too!!.

– Making brief eye contact with someone of the opposite sex – You pass him or her on the street or in the office or a mall. She or he glances up at you momentarily, making direct eye contact in a way that seems to communicate a subtle curiosity. For a split second it makes you think… and then it’s gone.

-Realizing you have more time to sleep – Something abruptly awakens you and you think it’s time to get up. Then you squint over at your alarm clock and realize you still have 2 more hours to sleep. A warm euphoric feeling shoots though your body as you glide gracefully back to your dreams.

-2 words: "pop sicles" on a hot day – Mmmmm!! Mango flavor :D

-A beautiful view – Nature offers us millions of colorful, vibrant and touchable paintings. The view of the sun being born every day, you see the colors blend in the sky creating an endless palette of shades across the horizon. The view of a single star shining in the night velvet sky. And many more.

-Having a hot bath.

-Having someone say "Thank you" to you.

-Clean sheets, clean skin.

-Having someone you love come up to you and hug you, kiss you, or tell you they love you just because they do.

-Being with my best friend and the two of us laugh so hard people stop and ask if we are okay.

I could go on and on and the list won’t even come close to an end. Maybe we just need time to relax, to enjoy, to embrace and to be. Please feel free to add up to the list :) let me and others know how u appreciat the smallest events of your day, inspire us and feel the inspirartion.

My New Favorite Super-Vegetable Of The Week: Kale, Kale, Kale

A lot of people I know don’t cook with kale, or even know what this vegetable is. Unless you are a health food store junkie or an avid reader of vegetarian recipes, kale is one of the best-kept secrets of the vegetable world. And once you are inducted into the amazingness of eating kale, there really is no turning back.

Kale is not an ubiquitous kitchen staple compared to more common vegetables like carrots and onions, but it should be. As a type of cabbage, it is very high in anti-oxidants and has antiflammatory properties. This dark-green and leafy vegetable is also chock loaded with beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and calcium.

In addition to its stellar nutrition resume, kale is simply a delicious and versatile vegetable that can be prepared in a number of ways. You can eat it raw in a salad, bake it into crisp chips, sautee it with onions, add to soup or use as a lettuce replacement for burgers, sandwiches and spring rolls.

Hail kale. I’m a fervent neophyte of the kale, and I invite all of you to join the movement to eat more kale.

Several delicious kale recipe ideas are listed below.

- Baked kale chips recipe from All Recipes. You won’t believe how ridiculously easy this is to make. Just rub with olive oil, add a shake of salt, and stick in the oven for ten minutes to treat yourself to a crisply baked snack that gets addictive fast. Perfect for veggie-hating kids and the inner veggie-hating child of big adults.

- Dehydrated kale chips recipe from We Like It Raw. Do you have a dehydrator? Instead of baking kale leaves, you can dehydrate them to enjoy this veggie in chip form. The plus side of this method is that you will enjoy more of the nutrients found in raw form, as vital enzymes in raw vegetables get destroyed in high heat.

- Kale salad with pine nuts, currants and Parmesan recipe from Epicurious. Sick of your usual lettuce or spinach salads? Raw kale saves the day with its crisp crunch and slightly bitter flavor.

- Sauteed kale recipe from Food Network. A simple, super-easy and super-healthy vegetable side-dish that is an instant crowd-pleaser for your next lunch or dinner.

- Kielbasa kale stew recipe from All Recipes. Though kale can easily stand on its own as a side dish or salad, it also makes for a great addition to a main dish, such as this potato stew recipe.

- Kale and olive oil mashed potatoes from 101 Cookbooks. Want to add more nutritional punch to this standard American sidedish? Duh, add some kale.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / ex.libris

Inner Sunrise: A Brand-New Day

We don’t need to wait until tomorrow to start fresh, today can be a blank slate starting right now.

When today is not going well, it is tempting to focus on tomorrow as a blank slate with all the possibilities that newness provides. It is true that tomorrow will be a brand-new day, but we do not have to wait until tomorrow to start fresh. We can start fresh at any moment, clearing our energy field of any negativity that has accumulated, and call this very moment the beginning of our brand-new day.

There is something about the sunrise and the first few hours of the morning that make us feel cleansed and rejuvenated, ready to move forward enthusiastically. As the day wears on, we lose some of this dynamic energy and the inspiration it provides. This may be why we look forward to tomorrow as providing the possibility of renewal. Many traditions consider the light of the rising sun to be particularly divine in its origins; this is why so many people in the world face east when performing ritual. We too can cultivate that rising sun energy inside ourselves, carrying it with us to light our way through any time of day or night, drawing on its power to awaken and renew our spirits.

One simple way to do this is to carry an image or a photograph of the rising sun with us in our wallet or purse. We can also post this image on our wall at work or at home, or have it as our screensaver on our computer. When we feel the need to start fresh, we can take a moment to gaze at the image, allowing its light to enter into our hearts. As we do this, we might say out loud or quietly to ourselves, I am ready to let go of the past and start anew. We might visualize anything we want to release leaving us as we exhale, and as we inhale, we can take in the fresh energy of the eastern sun, allowing it to light the way to a brand-new day.

 

Nine Happiness Helpers

It is possible to build a sunnier outlook in every room. Try these strategies for replacing negative patterns. 

Screening

Sometimes it feels as if you can replay childhood memories like a movie, and these scenes take on more importance than other life events. Freud called such past moments "screen memories" because we tend to filter our lives through them. Vivid as they appear in your head, these film clips belong in the basement with other old stuff. Try to stop reacting to them and live for today.

The key: You can’t live in the past. Now is it.

Pinging

Also called mirroring, it is the feedback you receive from trusted loved ones. You use these sonar signals like dolphins that ping their way through jagged shoals to open water. If used correctly, pinging teaches you to follow your inner compass and not let other people’s stinging comments set you off course. You ping mostly in the family room because relatives know just how to push your buttons.

The key: Be authentic; be true to you.

A+B=C

In the relationship equation, you are A, B is someone you have conflict with and C is the relationship. This equation is especially relevant whenever you’re fighting with someone you love. If you want to change the outcome, it’s simple: Change A, and C will change. You can’t change anyone else.

The key: You can change only yourself. 

Venn diagram

Sorry, all you Jerry Maguire fans, but "You complete me" isn’t the goal here, because you already are a complete person. Make a circle with your index finger and your thumb on each hand and bring the two circles together so they overlap. The overlap shows how two people come together in a healthy relationship. You’re each a full circle; connection is the goal, not a total merge.

The key: We don’t complete each other. We overlap. 

Self-involvement

Any overinvolvement in the self—positive or negative—will affect relationships in every other room of the house. Self-involvement, or narcissism, originates in the bathroom, at the mirror. You may not always like what you see, but whether you’re too admiring or overly self-critical, walk away from the reflection in order to have a fuller, happier life.

The key: It’s not all about you. 

It’s not either/or…it’s both/and

The idea is to give up the all-or-nothing mentality and realize two contrasting ideas can be true at once. You may be furious at someone and love him or her at the same time. Disagree but be civil. This is most useful at the kitchen table, where conflict is on the menu. Learn to tolerate discomfort and not let conflict or disagreements get you down.

The key: Conflict can be OK.

Acting out

When you can’t express yourself, you tend to misbehave in passive but noticeable ways—for instance, arriving late to meet someone you’re angry with or "forgetting" to tell a respected elder you have to miss the family reunion. Acting out happens in every area of your life, but especially in situations in which someone, such as a grandparent or boss, has authority over you.

The key: Actions speak louder than words.

Too much of a good thing is a bad thing

Being too nice or too giving allows others’ needs to suck the life out of you. It occurs so often in the living room, we call it "the giving room." (You’ll also see it in the kids’ room and family room.) Remember, the airlines tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first! Take care of yourself. (No, it’s not selfish; it’s simply self-preservation.)

The key: Know your limits. Be strong to help others.

Not to decide is to decide

If you’re putting off a decision, know that delaying is a form of action. By choosing to postpone, you may miss out on achieving your goals or regret not moving ahead in your life. It’s like the old saying—nothing ventured, nothing gained. But something may be lost.

The key: Go (with the status quo) or grow.

Excerpted from The Nine Rooms of Happiness: Loving Yourself, Finding Your Purpose and Getting Over Life’s Imperfections by Lucy Danziger and Catherine Birndorf, M.D. (Voice) © 2010

 PHOTO (cc): Flickr / shemer

The Great Wait: Survival Secrets of the 33 Miners Trapped in Chile

The miners call it Hell. The only thing missing is the fire and brimstone. Half-a-mile underground in northern Chile, 33 men are trapped in a cramped shelter where the temperature is a constant 85 degrees. Journalists across the planet have descended on the Atacama desert to report on the so-called Miracle of the San Jose Mine. The countdown clock is ticking on a rescue effort that could take two to four months.

In the annals of survival, "Los 33" (as they are now known) will surely take their place along with legendary survivors of the Andes plane crash in 1972, some of whom are now en route to the Chilean mine to lend support. The 16 Andes survivors endured 72 freezing days on a glacier before they were rescued. The Chilean 33 were entombed on August 5th and are on pace to surpass that number along with the previous record (China) for survival in a mine disaster (25 days).

For all the danger ahead, these men have already survived the worst — the terrifying 17 days underground before they made contact with the outside world. It won’t be easy or comfortable, but Los 33 will eventually emerge from the dank darkness and newspaper headlines will declare a "Christmas Miracle."

In reality, the saga is closely following classic patterns of human behavior under extreme pressure. Yes, there is a risk of another cave-in. Yes, the exact ending of this drama — especially the timing — remains uncertain. But going forward, the story isn’t really about life and death. It’s about endurance, resilience, the power of hope … and weight loss.

1. The biggest challenge ahead is sanity.

So far, the greatest threats to the miner’s physical survival have been solved. A drill hole connects them to the world above. This four-inch hole is a kind of fragile umbilical cord — as the Chilean health minister calls it — for sending oxygen, food, water, medicine, communications (even a marriage proposal) and — apparently most important to the miners — tooth brushes and beer. Everything from the sublime to the mundane is making its way down the bore hole. Thirty-three miniature Bibles have been dispatched along with small soccer balls, nicotine patches (smokers can’t light matches for fear of explosions), dominoes and playing cards (for the "casino" in the shelter). Anti-depression medicines are also ready to be pushed below in five foot long capsules nicknamed "doves."

Beyond supplies, everyone who knows anything about long term confinement is en route to northern Chile (or consulting with local officials). Experts from NASA are on their way to offer advice on nutrition and psychology for people – like astronauts — in cramped spaces for long periods. Chile’s submarine commanders have also weighed in with ideas about living for long periods in dark, crowded conditions.

And those legendary survivors of the Andes plane crash are traveling from Uruguay. "When they get out and they hug each other above ground, they’ll see how little two or three months is in a lifetime," Jose Luis Inciarte, one of the Andes survivors, told reporters.

2. Hope is the most important survival tool.

At the moment, five miners are "in very bad emotional shape," according to Dr. Jaime Mañalich, Chile’s health minister. They’re socially isolated and refused to participate in taping a group video. It should come as no surprise that five miners — 15 percent of the group — aren’t in the mood to perform in a video tour of their dungeon. That’s a predictable and manageable percentage, comparable to other disasters.

Anti-depression and anxiety drugs may be able to help those miners but hope will be the most important survival tool for the rest. At the US air force survival school in Spokane, Washington, they teach the so-called Rule of Three. You can live three minutes with oxygen; three days without water; three weeks without food. But you’ll only last three seconds without hope.

Right now, we can assume the miners have plenty of hope. They know 16 million fellow Chileans are rooting for them. They have spoken via microphone with their country’s president, Sebastian Pinera, who promised they would be rescued. They know that help is on the way. And some, if not all, believe that God is looking out for them.

Of all the challenges on the outside, managing the miners’ psychology will be as important as drilling the rescue shaft. Inevitably, there will be disappointments. Machinery will break. Mistakes will be made. But the miners must trust that they’re getting accurate information. They must set achievable goals. They must never feel abandoned. And above all, they must feel confident that they will eventually see the light above and their families and friends again.

3. Underground, it’s not Lord of the Flies.

In their first video, the shirtless miners look scraggly, emaciated and almost ghostly. It’s natural to wonder: Will their civility disintegrate? Will order eventually dissolve?

From experience in other disasters, social collapse is extremely unlikely. Yes, there will be tension, frustration and factions. But these men have already demonstrated discipline and ability to work together effectively.

"We have organized everything very well down here," says Mario Sepúlveda, a 39 year old miner who is the main presenter of the video tour.

"Here is where we meet every day, here is where we plan, where we pray," he goes on. "Here is the meeting room where all of the decisions are made with the involvement of the 33 that are here."

Shift foreman Luis Urzúa is technically in charge. In the immediate aftermath of the collapse, Urzúa 321– a soccer coach — strictly rationed supplies (two spoons of tuna, a mouthful of milk, a biscuit, and a canned peach every 48 hours) and stretched two days of food into two weeks.

Another miner — trained as a paramedic — has stepped into the role as the group’s medical officer.

So far, the group appears to be functioning efficiently and collaboratively. In the military, this is called unit cohesion. Especially in extreme situations, the team knows it must stick together to succeed and survive.

4. The greatest challenge may be above ground.

There will be plenty of twists and turns ahead for the miners. But now, it’s all about waiting and — for some — losing weight. Nine of the 33 are reportedly too heavy to fit into the planned rescue shaft and will need to slim down (if they haven’t already because of the deprivation).

When all 33 are eventually raised to the surface, they will face a new survival challenge: How to go on with their lives.

The media onslaught will create instant national heroes and accompanying riches. TV producers are surely focusing on shift foreman Urzúa and Sepulveda, the presenter of the video. Book publishers must be eyeing Victor Segovia, described in the video as "our great writer, our friend … who has been writing down everything we have gone through since the day the event happened."

Segovia smiles faintly and gives the thumbs up sign. "I want to send my regards to my family, especially my wife and daughter, I love them very much," he says.

"Don’t worry," he goes on. "Everything is going is to be fine."

For some, everything will indeed be fine. For others, the experience will be scarring. For every single one, the ordeal will be life-changing.

The family of Edison Pena, a 34-year-old miner, understands the possibilities and opportunities. With relatives sending letters and gifts to loved ones through the bore hole, Pena’s family attached a photo of Elvis Presley to a note of encouragement.

"Hang in there," they wrote, "because soon you’re going to be more famous than Elvis."

# # #

For more on surviving and thriving in the face of any kind of adversity, please visit the new and improved Survivors Club.

 

Follow Ben Sherwood on Twitter: www.twitter.com/survivorsclub

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / RichardLowkes

The Eat, Pray, Love… Disenchantment of Today

It’s a beautiful dream – to travel the world and find what brings you happiness through food, wine, romance and prayer. How many people read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, wanting to jump on the next plane to anywhere that would take them out of their own world of disenchantment.

So many people are in marriages today that don’t fulfill them, where nothing seems to make sense anymore. Have you noticed? Yet, few have the courage to leave and search for what is calling out to them, as Liz did. She recognized the disconnection wasn’t about her husband – it was something going on inside her – and so she began walking toward that new world, while still offering love to the man she was walking away from. 

The Eat, Pray, Love feeling of discontent is happening today – not because people are selfish or aren’t willing to work on their partnership, but because it’s time to awaken to a deeper quest.
Consider if it’s possible that Liz became unhappy because she was being guided to a life that had more meaning, one that could give her a greater sense of fulfillment.  If you don’t have love within yourself, it’s difficult, if not impossible to give it to another. Often a partner can have this victim stance of – ‘how could you do this to me,’ when it could be the very best thing that could happen for both of them.  

When we have given ourselves agreement to look at the cause of our unhappiness, unlikely messengers begin to appear in our lives.  For Liz it was Richard, the Texan confidant she met in an Indian Ashram, “… If you want to get to the castle, you need to swim the moat.”  In other words, she would have to do a bit of soul searching within herself – another reflection not too many people are wont to do.

Even so, more and more people today are feeling that tug in the heart, that notice we are sent, when something wants to change.  It can feel pretty uncomfortable, and still, many will choose to live with it over dealing with change of any kind.  Making a decision to leap into unknown territory can be frightening but it’s where untold treasures await each person willing to cross that great divide.

The good news is… we don’t have to travel the globe to reach that castle, the journey can begin in your very own home.  Numerous people, myself included, have found that once a commitment is made to discover what your soul wants to show you, those ‘unlikely messengers’ begin arriving from everywhere to help you swim that divide. 

Once you make sacred space in your heart and in your home to allow this infinite guidance in, it can happen through even as simple a practice as breathing deep with an inner focus. When it’s time to discover that rich field of awareness – it will be there – for every person wanting to know…  without even needing to travel to an ashram in India or a healer in Bali. 

Eat, Pray, Love could be your ‘unlikely messenger’.  If it’s time to take that journey now, don’t worry, you don’t have to begin by leaving your partner.  Just take the first step and find what that disenchantment is really trying to tell you.  Close your eyes… breathe deep… make a request… and get ready to discover the truly amazing travels that are coming your way.

 

Life Lessons From The Sea

On the last day of August, with school starting this week for many of us, it’s a good time to reflect on some summer lessons from the sea.  I’m from the Ocean State, Rhode Island, with its miles of sandy beaches. I love going to the beach to swim, sun, and walk on the tide’s edge. But also I like just sitting and looking out over the water. The horizon line never fails to fill me with a sense of wonder, singing as it does of life’s far and unknown borders.

People say of difficult situations, It wasn’t a day at the beach.  But life is like a day at the beach. Some days, life is great.  The sun is shining and the water sparkles like so many diamonds. There are no clouds, the waves are perfect and you ride them in—all the way to the shore.  Life is good. 

And then there are those other days at the beach when life is a monster wave that picks you up and slams you down, churning you like so much wet laundry in the spin cycle, leaving you with a mouth full of salt water, or, like this past weekend, worse. The ferocious riptides on the East Coast this week, courtesy of Hurricanes Danielle and Earl, dragged many out to sea. At Narragansett Beach this past weekend, the air was cut with the sound of rescue sirens, en route to help those caught in a rip’s current.  

When life’s difficulties and trials drag you out like a riptide, all you can do is go with the flow. Remember not to swim against the current. Don’t fight it. Stay calm. Have faith. By swimming parallel to the shore, you will eventually find the opening that leads you back to the beach. On days like that, it’s important to surrender, with all the grace that that misunderstood verb implies, and to know that the tide that goes out always comes back in.  The ceaseless tides tell us that more important than any one day is the accumulation of many days and small acts—acts of loving kindness, acts of generosity, acts that require impossible leaps of faith. All these add up to a life.

Water’s most remarkable quality is its ability to be simultaneously life giving and erosive.  Drop by drop, very gently and persistently, water will wear down the biggest stone.  It can take down a mountain. After many years, I’ve come to know that persistence trumps intelligence and talent every time. Most people just don’t hang in there long enough.

The horizon line divides the world into two parts—sky and ocean. That distant but ever-present, reassuring line marks the place where earth and heaven connect, where people come together in all their vulnerability and mystery.  It’s a cosmic timeline, marking the brief moment of our own lives, as well as the lifetimes of those who lived before us, and those still to come. As summer comes to a bittersweet end, it’s good to sit on a beach and remember that you have a place in eternity.

Photo: Waves Crashing in RI (cc): Flickr / Laram77

“The Power” – Understanding the Brain’s Challenges In Manifesting Whatever You Want: Part 1

I have always appreciated books like "The Secret" and "The Power" by Rhonda Byrne-inspirational books that draw you out of your misery into a world of possibilities. For many, this is all that is needed: another life force that believes in your possibility, and you are on your way to realizing your dreams. However, for some, this is not quite enough. How exactly do you access the secret and the power? And can understanding how your brain works help you get closer to the power? Below is a brief description of the brain happenings behind the challenges to getting exactly what you want, and a simple description of how this applies to finding the perfect lover.

 

Continue to read on Psychology Today

“The Power” – Understanding the Brain’s Challenges In Manifesting Whatever You Want: Part 1

I have always appreciated books like "The Secret" and "The Power" by Rhonda Byrne-inspirational books that draw you out of your misery into a world of possibilities. For many, this is all that is needed: another life force that believes in your possibility, and you are on your way to realizing your dreams. However, for some, this is not quite enough. How exactly do you access the secret and the power? And can understanding how your brain works help you get closer to the power? Below is a brief description of the brain happenings behind the challenges to getting exactly what you want, and a simple description of how this applies to finding the perfect lover.

 

Continue to read on Psychology Today

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