4 Reasons Why Family Videos Are Important

We live in a time of progress and technological advancement. Our lives are a whirlwind of events and activity where many of us  attempt to hold on to tradition and family values while the world around us seems to be constantly focused on the next best thing. Cell phones and computers have become staples in our daily lives, but we can barely keep up with the newest version of any particular “gadget”. Retailers push products for summer while we’re still coping with winter weather. There seems to be a constant push to look ahead at the next holiday rather than enjoying the one at hand. Our days are filled with work, school, and extracurricular events and our evenings are consumed with mealtimes, errands, and our favorite TV shows. In such busy times, it is easy to lose sight of the little things (which are not really all that little). There are blurbs all over social media sites urging us to forget the past and focus on the future. While it can be healthy to free ourselves of past mistakes and focus on goals, there is something quite valuable in our history. Finding balance seems to be a common thread in all our lives and it is important to remember that we are a culmination of the moments we have experienced, the memories we cherish, the family we came from, and the purpose we are trying to find. Amongst the hustle and bustle we snap pictures and video with our phones and cameras in an attempt to grasp the fleeting moments and preserve them. Those precious parts of our lives fill up the memory on our phones and sit patiently in our camera bags; waiting to be viewed and shared. With Spring on the horizon, the time to “stop and smell the roses” is upon us. I encourage you to dig out your camera bag, find the USB cord to your phone, dust off those old tapes and reels of film, and replace an episode of your favorite show with some sunshine and joy. Need more encouragement? Here are some good reasons…..

Children Benefit From Their Heritage

Children in the world today experience things much differently than their parents and grandparents did in their youth. Social media and “celebrity-ism” is a strong influence in their lives. The increase in divorce and the need for double income households creates different challenges and life experience. Technology; while positive in many ways, also exposes our kids to dangers and potentially a false sense of what and who they should be striving to become. According to a recent article published by the “New York Times”(“The Stories That Bind Us” Bruce Feiler), children “..who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges,”. The article explains a study that was done by a group of psychologists who found that children who are familiar with their family history tend to be more resilient, better at coping with stress, better communicators, and have a stronger sense of self. Viewing photographs and videos of past generations helps children to understand that they are connected to a larger group. Learning of hardships and accomplishments experienced by this group of people helps them accept the challenges they face and have confidence in their own success. Sharing home movies and pictures with children encourages communication about family members that might not take place otherwise and enables kids to visualize the information they receive. Sharing pictures and video of “Grandpa John” in his WWII uniform while relaying the details of how he volunteered to serve in the Army Air Corps at 17 years old and his accomplishments and struggles during that time gives children a connection to someone they might not otherwise have.

Remembering Those We Have lost

Everyone will experience the loss of loved ones at some point in their lives. Just as it is important to remember our past, it is also important to keep those we love in our present. According to the American Psychological Association, remembering loved ones in our daily lives is an important part of the grief process. Accepting loss is difficult, but it helps us to talk about those we love and share our memories of them. Keeping their memory alive benefits us as well as future generations. While it is important for our children to learn about relatives and other loved ones who are no longer living, it is also important for us to actively remember the people we cherish. Many families name their children after family members from past generations; often times even if they didn’t know them personally. Experiencing how special a person was through stories, home movies, and photographs builds a connection and encourages tradition. Sharing these memories can replace some of the feelings of loss by celebrating those people and the lives they lived. Communicating their importance with others and re-incorporating their beliefs, qualities, abilities, and  talents into the lives of our children can be an irreplaceable gift.

Acknowledge Your Accomplishments

Although our lives are filled with joys, milestones, and things we are grateful for, viewing home movies and photographs can truly put that into perspective. In our efforts to progress, we often lose sight of that which we have already accomplished. We sometimes avoid things that remind us of the past if there is a memory attached that is not so cherished; maybe a past relationship that went wrong or a particular time in life that was difficult. However, even the worst memories can help us grow and remind us of how far we have come. Watching videos of graduations, dance recitals, and football games are all good reminders of our successes. An unhappy moment in the past most likely includes cherished memories as well, such as the birth of a child, an unforgettable vacation, or a life choice that proved to be positive.

Count your Blessings

There is nothing like a home movie or video scrapbook to remind us of all that we have to be thankful for. The question has been asked many times, “If your house was on fire and you could only grab 3 belongings, what would they be?” Pictures and videos are often on the top of that list. We all know that most “things” can be replaced, but memories are irreplaceable. The birthday cake covered faces of our toddlers, the look on our child’s face the first time they see an elephant at the zoo, or the prideful cheers when they peddle their bike for the first time are invaluable and heart warming. Their first wobbly step, their first prom, and their first day of kindergarten are only a few on the list of milestones that we cherish. Wedding days, baby showers, record snow storms, and rainbows in the Spring remind us of the magic that life has to offer. An auditorium filled with students decorated in caps and gowns, 50th wedding anniversary parties, and the homecomings of service men and women are precious memories sure to promote gratitude and happiness. What better way could you spend a snow day…or even a Wednesday night?

Preservation

Would you park your convertible in the rain with the top down? Or plant a tree in August and not give it water? You’ve snapped the pictures and carefully focused your video camera in on the special moments in your life. You’ve collected the memories and tucked them away. You’ve talked about pulling them out and worried about their condition. Film fades and photographs and video tape deteriorate. Technology changes along with the equipment necessary to watch your collections of holidays, birthdays, and family gatherings. What better time than right now to preserve those memories for future generations and prepare them for family movie night? So brush off the dust, collect the memory cards, transfer the files from your phones, and enjoy!

Make a Change…Or Two, Or Three, Or Twenty Changes….

We are all aware of indecencies, criminal acts, inequalities, destruction, abuse, and other atrocities in the world around us, but most of us don’t really feel we can make a difference. Many people are hesitant to make donations to charities, support groups, foundations, or organizations either due to lack of funds, uncertainties about how their money can really help, or a lack of trust in what their money would truly be used for. We see ads on television about donating monies to this group or that, then later hear about financial abuse within the company. This causes doubt, frustration, and a huge lack of trust. Even if we were convinced that our money would serve good, there are so many groups to choose from that many of us still do nothing. I believe that most people would truly WANT to make a difference if they thought they could, but are paralyzed into doing nothing because of all the confusion. There are differences of opinion within political parties, religious groups, scientists, and corporations causing most of us to feel so confused about where to stand that we end up sitting down, doing nothing at all. But the bottom line is that we have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to not leave this world to them used up and destroyed. Their futures depend on our actions and frankly inaction is not acceptable and inexcusable.

So, I am here to encourage you. I am writing today to ask you to DO SOMETHING. Make a change…or two, or three, or twenty changes….whatever you can muster up. Here are some places to start:

 

#1  Research and Donate: Regardless of your feelings on global warming, I implore you to take a little time to do some research. According to research, the average person spends 23 hours per week online; social media, email, etc… That’s the equivalent of a part time job. There is a wealth of information from many, many resources, so, take one of those hours per week and research the science about global warming and climate change and educate yourself. There is a compelling and informative series called “Years of Living Dangerously”. The episodes are about an hour long, and have been put together by people such as Harrison Ford, Matt Damon, and Don Cheadle. Here is the link: http://yearsoflivingdangerously.com/story/mercury-rising. In addition, research the groups that are seeking change to educate yourself on where donated money goes, and what it is going to accomplish. Most of the good one post their financial records so you can see where every penny is spent. If they don’t….ask them to. Research the founders of these groups, and who backs them, and what their cause is. Find one or two that you are comfortable donating to and ask yourself, “is it worth it?”. You might be surprised how little money is needed to make a difference.

#2  Use Your Voice: Science has proven that deforestation is the cause of at least 25% of the greenhouse gases/carbon emissions being released into our environment. As the forests continue to be burned, that percentage is rising. The prime reason for deforestation is the production of palm oil. Corporations in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia are burning approximately 80,000 acres of rain forests every day and severely degrading another 80,000 acres a day! They’re burning down these forests and peat beds, most of which are hundreds of years old, in order to plant palm trees for palm oil production and agrofuels. This burning releases massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Many of these companies are destroying the forests illegally, but the legal system is so corrupt that punishment is not occurring. One thing I have learned is that VOICES MAKE A DIFFERENCE. It takes minutes to find petitions online that you can sign to make your voice heard. Rainforestrescue.com is one of the many places you can find current and active petitions. It takes literally minutes to sign the petition and share them with friends and family via email or social media. These petitions are necessary to make regulators and businesses listen to the people and get government agencies involved. This costs nothing but a few minutes of your time and a little bravery to make others aware.

#3  Save Animal and Plant Life: Even if your research does not convince you that global warming and climate change are a real threat to our survival, think about the profound numbers of plant and animal life that are being destroyed every day. Rainforest’s house approximately 50% of the worlds species! 50%! This is where much of the biologic and genetic research has come from. Many life saving pharmaceuticals are produced from ingredients from plants and trees in the rainforest, but we have only studied 1% of these rainforest occupants. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization, current deforestation rates are 8.5% higher now than 10 years ago. Deforestation is causing us to lose about 50, 000 plant and animal species every year….and that number is growing. Gorillas, orangutans, monkeys, and other primates are being killed daily causing alarming numbers that are close to extinction. Elephants are being puposely poisoned by workers as they are considered pests. Countless numbers of birds, sea life, tigers, rhinos and other animals are being displaced, severely injured, and murdered…every day. There are many organizations that allow you to “adopt” these animals. The money donated helps rescue groups care for displaced animals, create preserves, promote regulations to protect the animals and their habitats, and get the appropriate government officials involved.

#4  Help Humanity:  The aggressive destruction of the rainforest is also hurting human populations that live in these areas. Farmers are being displaced and their homes are being taken over by criminal corporations in order to remove forests and plant palm tree plantations. Approximately 45 million people live in the rainforest in Indonesia. Many are being pushed out, displaced and even murdered. Rebellion groups are forming to attempt to combat these inhumane actions, but many are killed or imprisoned if they do not leave willingly. We hear a lot in the U S media about our desire to have the right to own firearms, to have gardens on our property, to have the ability to raise our own livestock, and to have the ability to express our religious or political beliefs freely. People become infuriated if they’re told they cannot hang an American flag in their front yard or display a nativity scene at Christmastime (and rightly so)…can you imagine someone kicking you out of your home in order to burn it down and use the land for their own financial benefit? Wouldn’t you want someone to help you if that happened? Use your voice and your money to help stop this inhumanity.

#5  Decide where to spend your money, and what products you will and will not use: Research companies that promote the import of palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia. There are manufacturing companies beginning to form which are attempting to create safer, more renewable palm oil production. There are good resources that inform the public about the use of palm oil, safe practices, and where each companies supply comes from. Rainforest Rescue has a wealth of information here: http://www.rainforest-rescue.org/topics/palm-oil. And here you can find a list of products that do/do not use palm oil as an ingredient: http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/shoppingethically/palmoilfreelist.aspx and http://a-z-animals.com/palm-oil/products. You can also participate by making them aware of products that do not contain palm oil to add to their list. You can make a difference by not buying products that support deforestation and replace them with products that do not contain palm oil or that use renewable resources (and remember that these products are not only edible products, but also cosmetics and personal care items, candles, and pet food). In addition, spend a little time emailing manufacturers to let them know you will no longer be purchasing their products and why. Also, email your state representatives to make them aware and support companies that do not support deforestation. If this seems daunting, start small. Begin in one section of your grocery store at a time. Each week, spend a few minutes reviewing labels and notating which companies you’ll support and which ones you will not. Within a couple of months, you will become more educated and be able to take an active step toward saving our environment and the lives of others who need our help.

#6  Decrease paper/plastic usage: Part of the reason for deforestation is also for the production of paper/plastic. Take every step you can to decrease paper/plastic usage. Request bills and correspondence through email rather than receiving it through the mail. Most magazines and newspapers provide online versions as well and can be easily saved to your computer for later access. Use cloth napkins instead of paper products and eliminate paper plates/cups from your grocery list. If you receive shipments through the mail that have excessive packaging, contact the sender to request they limit the amount of packaging to only what is needed. Recycle all paper products to be re-used which will decrease the demand for “new” paper. Create grocery lists through phone applications rather than using paper. Send e-cards instead of paper cards (or better yet, make a phone call or meet with the person for coffee or lunch or a walk in the park). Purchase reusable grocery bags to eliminate the use of paper or plastic bags. Donate your shredded paper to UPS or pet stores. Replace plastic “throw away” containers and plastic zipper bags with glass, ceramic, or sturdy, long use plastic containers. Pay attention to every paper/plastic product you purchase and look for a way to replace it with something more environmentally friendly.

#7  Start in your own backyard: Start finding ways to supply yourself and your family with home grown products. Grow your own fruits, vegetables and herbs and preserve them for use throughout the year which will reduce the amount of product you buy pre-packed in cardboard or plastic. It’s also more cost efficient and healthier; eliminating the questions of, “what’s in this?” and “what is this ingredient?”. If you have limited or no yard space to plant in, there are tons of articles on compact gardening and how to grow indoors with UV lights or look into starting a community garden in your town. Plant trees and encourage others to plant trees. Baby trees can be purchased for very little money and grow more quickly than you would think. Companies like Arbor Day Association give away free trees to new members and also offer the ability to donate trees to friends and family or to communities that have lost trees to forest fires or deforestation. Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides that are not organic, and use organic soil and non GMO seeds and plants. Compost your fruit and vegetable scraps to feed your garden reducing the amount of waste you place in garbage bags.

#8  Stop Being Afraid: Many people do not read about global warming, climate change, and problems in other countries due to fear and powerlessness. The problems seem so enormous and far away, that it’s easier to turn a blind eye. But education is key to changing the future. Knowing what is happening and educating yourself on how you can help can alleviate some of the fear, and help you feel productive in a resolution. Regardless of your income level, location, or age, there are things you CAN do. Every action counteracts an inaction. The problems we face CAN be helped if we accept what has been proven, and take action now.

#9 Share with others: Many of us do not share this information because of fear that others will not be accepting of it (there are a lot of different opinions on this subject). People don’t like information being forced on them, especially if they’re not ready to accept it. But there are many ways to share this information without being pushy or overbearing. OR….WHAT THE HECK….BE OVERBEARING if you believe in your efforts. Share petitions on social media sights and email. Share articles about what is happening in the world. Share information about the manufacturers you learn about….good OR bad. Share with your state representatives and anyone else who might possibly listen. Share with your school district….with your community centers…with your doctors…with your newspapers. Being a conduit for helpful information is great for the soul! You will likely experience some eye rolling, scoffing, debate, and indifference, but if you reach one person out of 10, you have accomplished something.

I don’t claim to be an expert or know everything about this subject, but I have decided to learn more. In that learning, I feel compelled to share what I’m learning with others who might not be fully aware. I know that big problems (and you can’t get much bigger than this) can feel overpowering to one person. I just hope more and more people will figure out that they CAN make a difference. I hope more and more people will step outside their everyday life for a moment and evaluate what they’re willing to do.

 

Peace

7 New Habits To Start For a Happier You

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Most people think of a habit as something that is bad for us; something we need to break or stop, but there are many habits we can start; habits we can strive for that can be very good for us. There are many theories about how long it takes to create a new habit, or break an old one, but I think it really depends on the person. Some habits may be more difficult and therefore will take a bit longer, while others may come quite easily. The most important thing to keep in mind is to be determined and don’t give up if you falter a bit. Here is a list of good habits to work toward. I think you’ll find that positive changes will help you grow as a person, and will lead you to a happier you.

#1

Get up earlier in the morning

When I was in my teens and 20’s, I relished the opportunity to sleep in; every chance I got and for as long as possible! While that’s good to do from time to time, getting up earlier in the morning can prove to be a great eye opener! Whether you spend the time meditating, working out,  going for a walk, enjoying a cup of tea, or visiting with your significant other a wee bit longer than normal, the extra time, well spent, can be very rewarding. Watching the sun come up, for example can make you more aware of nature and give you the enjoyment of seizing the moment that many others take for granted. If you find yourself rushed in the mornings, that extra time may start your day out a little less stressful and help you feel more together. If the idea seems daunting to you, start small. Begin with 15 minutes until you become accustomed to the change, then add another 15. It lends a feeling of accomplishment and I think you will find it refreshing.

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#2

Meditate

If you’ve never practiced meditation before, there is a lot of information on the web. There are also books and DVD’s for beginners that explain the basics as well as more advanced lessons. I suggest anything by Rodney Yee. I have read his books and own several DVD’s for meditation and Yoga and he is very easy to listen to and lends a peacefulness to the process which makes it enjoyable. Even if you only meditate for 10 minutes a few times a week for starters, you will benefit from calming your mind and allotting some time to truly relax. We all need this to shed stress and connect with the peacefulness inside us. Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, and has not always been seen in western civilizations as a serious practice, however many medical professionals encourage meditation now, and see it as a healthy addition to well-being. According to The Mayo Clinic, meditation can help many illnesses such as allergies, anxiety, asthma, binge eating, cancer, depression, fatigue, heart disease, high blood pressure, pain, sleep problems, and substance abuse. Meditation is even seen in the animal kingdom. Have you ever watched your pet find a comfortable spot and gaze out a window or across a field? Research has shown that many animals practice this calming ritual and believe it has the same benefits to them as to humans. When I meditate, my dog and cat both come into the room and join me. It is as though they sense the calming, peacefulness. They both sit quietly in stillness with me. Whether you meditate in the morning, mid-day, or before bed, meditation can bring you a calm sense of self and add some peacefulness to your life.

#3

Yoga

As with meditation, there is a wealth of information about the benefits of Yoga. It is a low stress exercise that has been proven to aid in circulation, digestion, eliminate toxins, clear the mind, improve posture, improve balance, relieve joint pain, improve breathing, and relieve stress. Many people think of Yoga and expect they will have to be able to twist themselves into a human pretzel, but this is not true. There are many different kinds of Yoga such as prenatal Yoga, relaxation Yoga, and power Yoga, so whatever your age or body type, there is a Yoga that will fit your needs. If you avoid strenuous exercise because it seems difficult, Yoga can help you become more flexible, strengthen muscles, and make your body and mind more powerful. Yoga also helps with focus. I have a daughter who is diagnosed with ADD. As some of you know, ADD is a disorder caused by the brains inability to process information at the average rate. A child without ADD processes information in about 3 seconds, where an ADD child can take up to 14 seconds to process the same information. Both meditation and Yoga have helped my daughter focus and has the ability to calm her mind allowing for quicker responses and faster processing of information. The key to making Yoga a new habit is to go slowly. If you don’t feel you can master the positions exactly like the Yoga instructor, do what you can and don’t be discouraged. Each time you practice Yoga, the movements will become easier and your flexibility will improve. Set aside time as often as you can whether it’s once or twice a week, or every morning. If you prefer gathering with others, most towns offer Yoga classes. Check your local school, church, or community center. Once you begin to notice the benefits, you will look forward to Yoga and find a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction is becoming healthier in mind and body.

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#4

Journal

Even if you don’t consider yourself a fantastic writer, journaling is good for the mind, body, and soul. We all have thoughts, feelings, and ideas floating around in our heads. We often don’t share these thoughts with others due to lack of time, or attention. Maybe we even feel that others wouldn’t be interested or would think our thoughts are silly or repetative. It is important to accept, acknowledge, and love our own minds. Mindfulness has been described as, “the practice of purposefully focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in happiness”.  Journaling will help you become more mindful because it allows you to take a quiet moment and truly get in touch with your thoughts and feelings. By writing down your thoughts, things you’re thankful for, ideas, feelings, or even dreams, you are purposfully acknowledging what is in your heart and mind and gaining to ability to accept yourself. Journaling also gives you something tangible to reflect back on later, which can make you aware of how you’ve grown over time and remind you of hurdles you have overcome. This will help prevent you from “bottling up” feelings or treating them as if they’re not important and will give you a better sense of what you want from your life.

#5

Visualization

One of the biggest hurdles we have in our lives that keeps us from accomplishing our goals and dreams is our own feeling of inability. We allow self-doubt to hold us back, then find ourselves looking back in time and saying, “if only I had done this or that when I was younger, or when I had the money, or when I had more time”. If there is something you want, the time to strive for it is now. Even if you have to take baby steps toward your goal, the act of doing anything toward that goal is better than inactivity. Visualizing your goal and yourself accomplishing the goal is a very positive way to move forward and avoid feelings of failure. It has been said that, “If you are searching for that one person who will change your life, take a look in the mirror”. While you may want the support of family and friends, the only person who can truly make your dreams come true is you! Take a few moments a day and sit quietly. Picture yourself at a crossroad and acknowledge that one road will take you to the same place you have been, while the other road will take you to the destination you’re seeking. Imagine yourself the way you want to be; strong, capable, healthy, and begin to walk down that path. Recognize what needs to be done to make the trip successful and begin to see it as something you CAN accomplish. By picturing your hopes and dreams, you will begin to replace the feelings of doubt and inability with thoughts of what you need to do next. You will convince your mind that this goal IS in reach and begin to accept the responsibility to make it happen.

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#6

Rid your life of the toxic elements

If you were to make yourself a pot of tea, you would boil the water, add tea bags, maybe some honey or lemon. Would you decide to add a little bleach? A teaspoon of weed killer? Of course not, so why would you allow toxic things in your life? Toxic people, poisonous attitudes, and unhealthy behaviors taint your mind, body and soul just as toxic chemicals would ruin your tea. Identify people who keep you down or make you feel unable to make the changes you long for. If eliminating a person from your life completely seems harsh or isn’t possible, then at least address the issue and expect respect even if they can’t or won’t give you support. Your dreams are precious to your life and well-being, so stand up for them, defend them, protect them so they can grow. If you’re spending a great deal of time on something that you really don’t want to be doing, make some changes with that time in order to open it up for the things you truly want to be doing. By stopping the behavior that is stripping you of joy, you will tell yourself that time is worth something good and you will begin to believe that you have as much ability to attain your goals as any other person, and you will show those who are not supportive that you are stronger than their desire to hold you back.

#7

Welcome Positivity

Sometimes the goals and dreams we have are not necessarily commonplace for others in our lives. In my life, for example, I am not surrounded by writers. My husband works with computers and programming, my kids are involved with their friends, school, and plans for their own futures, and most of my friends have interests that are not always the same as mine. In order to get the support we all need, sometimes it is necessary to seek people outside our everyday life. If you find this is true, join a club, take an art class or writing seminar. If your goal is to lose weight, join a gym or weight watchers group. If your dream involves a further education, join a study group with other college students that have similar goals. The internet has endless possibilities for support groups, blogs, and internet communities of people with the same mindset as you. You may even find that encouraging others will also reinforce your own encouragement. It’s nice for me when my family or friends say something positive about my writing, but there is always that voice in my head suggesting they are just telling me that because they don’t want to discourage me. By seeking people outside your everyday life, people who have the same interests, people who don’t have anything to gain by encouraging you or giving you constructive criticism, you will give yourself a very helpful resource for your goals. Become a sponge for positivity. Absorb every ounce of it you can. This positivity will help you grow and will bring your goals into the forefront of your life.

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When standing at a crossroad and being aware that a change is needed, it is important to evaluate. Evaluate your needs. Evaluate your unhealthy habits and negative mindsets. Do not allow the business of life to get in the way. Clear out the clutter and make room for positive habits in place of unhealthy ones. Create positivity. Welcome encouragement. Repel negativity. Become one with the knowledge that life has great things in store for you and that you are bound for the destination of your dreams!

 

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

–Thomas Jefferson

Comments we say that should wake us up.

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Being an observer of people and behavior and someone who is generally “glass half full”, I have taken notice of common statements that people make that I often kind of cringe at. I have caught myself saying some of them at one time or another, and found that re-structuring the way I think proves to be quite helpful.

I have been on a kind of soul searching expedition over the past few years (really much longer than that). More often than I would like to admit, I have found myself feeling, unhappy, unsettled, and generally displeased with certain aspects of my life. While I feel these revelations are necessary in order to gain personal growth, I am also fully aware of the fact that in order to find a happier, better self, you must be aware of the restrictions you place on yourself and be willing to change them. Sometimes it is as simple as listening to yourself speak.

I think that people get into ruts in life without even realizing it. We start out with goals and ideas and dreams in mind, and carry on toward them. For whatever reasons, we often take the wrong path, or maybe the right path just leads us to someplace unexpected. But there are certain mind sets that sometimes take place that can be quite detrimental to our JOY.

I have always been interested in success stories. You know the ones….people who fought agains the odds and came out on top. J. K. Rowling, for example, was a single mother on welfare, living in poverty and diagnosed with clinical depression before her success in writing the “Harry Potter” books. Many people would have chalked her life up to failure before she became famous. Oprah Winfrey came from poverty and sexual abuse but managed to become one of the most well known, respected and wealthy women in the world. Walt Disney was fired from his first job because he was said to have no imagination, only to become the founder of a giant industry where creativity is the cornerstone.

I came to realize that all of these success stories have something in common; the mind set to perservere regardless of their circumstances or what other people deem as a rational choice…or not. Unemployed, depressed and poor, Ms. Rowling still wrote her books and attempted to get them published. Without the ability to try, she would most certainly not be where she is today. Oprah became successful at a time when it was difficult for African Americans to do so, but she didn’t let that stop her from trying…and succeeding. Walt Disney pursued his vision in spite of what his employers told him and has experienced a life full of vision.

I’m sure they all felt defeated at some point. People and life discouraged them. Circumstances did not make their efforts easy. Through it all, though, they maintained a positive attitude and a belief in themselves. While seeking success in your life it is important to remember that statements and thoughts with a negative feel can undermine that positive thinking.

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“If I had a million dollars I would…”

I heard this statement innumerable times when I was growing up and have heard myself say it (dreadfully). This statement is alright if said in jest, but if the thought process behind it is inability, then it can truly destroy positive thinking. It reinforces an idea somewhere inside you that you will only be successful IF you win a ton of money. Pinning your future on this minuscule possibility will most definitely set you up for failure, and if you’re like me, you never play the lottery anyway. If you find yourself thinking this or saying it, redirect your thoughts to what you DO have and what you can do with it or how you can improve your financial situation. Money is a necessary evil and something that most people wish for. Let’s face it, it makes life easier in many ways and it’s required to survive. Many of the goals we have require funding, but inactivity while waiting to win the lottery is just a waste of precious time. Somewhere inside your mind and soul, you know this will likely never happen, therefore you’re telling yourself that you will never attain your goals.

 

“I hate my job, but there’s nothing else out there”

A miserable job contributes to a miserable existence (I low this first hand). We spend a great deal of time at our jobs, which raises the percentage of time in our life that we are unhappy. Acceptance of a miserable job will only cement the idea in your mind that your career is uncontrollably unhappy…therefore you are destined to be unhappy. Sometimes compromise has to take place in order to find career happiness, but you need to convince yourself that it IS attainable. Maybe happiness means taking on a different job that may pay less and adjust your habits. Maybe it means making necessary changes in the job you currently have. Maybe it means going back to school to get training in a different field or maybe you need to spend a significant amount of time seeking out alternative employment. I once heard something to the effect of, “if you’re unhappy and you do nothing about it, then you have no one to blame but yourself”. If you’re unhappy in your job…make changes…not excuses.

“You’re lucky you have a husband/wife who…”

I have heard this said many times by people who are unhappy with certain aspects of their relationships or entirely. This statement says to yourself that you’re not fortunate. If you have a spouse or significant other who is not meeting your needs in some way, you’re enforcing a belief that these things cannot and will not change. In addition, you’re telling yourself subconsciously that you made a bad choice in partners and not only that, but you’re accepting this bad choice as something you have to live with. By placing your focus on the person you see as luckier that you, rather than focusing on how you can improve your own happiness, you are creating feelings of defeat and emotional paralysis that will keep you from moving forward. If you find yourself saying this, you need to act on those feelings and reach out to your partner for resolution or accept that maybe a relationship change is needed.

“I could never do what you do”

I was a single mother for 11 years. When I became a single parent, my children were 9 months old and 2 years old. I had no college education, no job, and I was $40,000 in debt. Although I do not claim to have made impeccable choices all my life, I have always been motivated. At one point I was working 2 jobs and going to college full time, while raising my kids. I came in contact with many women in similar boats and I can’t tell you how many times I heard them say this. Telling someone else that you could never do what they’re doing is telling yourself the same. Nothing will will put a hole in your sails faster than this! These kinds of statements set you up to accept the unacceptable and to feel powerless. Feelings or powerlessness are the MOST destructive things in personal growth. Sometimes life events can make us feel powerless, but re-directing those ideas into how to become more powerful is the only way you can combat them. Gaining power over your life will put the wind back in your sailed and send you on your way.

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“If I could just find a nice guy/girl I would be happy”

Creating a self-worth that is dependent on another person is completely self-destructive. These kinds of statements negate your abilities and value as an individual. Have you ever heard that, “you can’t make others happy until you make yourself happy?” This is undeniably true! Being one with yourself and loving who you are is profoundly important when seeking happiness. Another person will not give that to you, no matter how great they are. A great partner can certainly accentuate happiness, but if you place your self-worth on another person’s presence, you will likely attract someone who does the complete opposite or repel someone who could be a great addition to your life.

“I don’t have time to…”

This is a defeatist statement if I have ever heard one (and I have said this many times). I don’t have time to go to college, or look for another job, or exercise, or whatever the thing is that you’re rationalizing against. If you find the thing important enough to be talking about it, you most likely require it in order to feel fulfilled. Stating that you don’t have the time is an easy excuse, but the hidden message is that you don’t have faith in yourself. This should be a red flag that you need to re-process the way you’re thinking. If something is important to your happiness…find the time. It may not be easy. In fact, it may be quite difficult, but in the end it will be worth it. Even if your efforts don’t result in the kind of joy you anticipated, the self-worth you will create by acting, instead of giving up, will have a very positive effect on how you see yourself and your future.

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“My family/friends would think I was crazy if …”

These kinds of statements are some of the most damaging. Not following your dreams, ignoring your own intuition, or neglecting your hopes out of fear that others will not approve will result in low self-esteem and an extreme lack of trust in yourself. This will make you an emotional and spiritual zombie. You might as well connect a remote control to your body and let others control your every move. No matter how much you love your friends and family, your life is your own. They may have their own agendas (most likely they do). Parents may not be able to relate to your hopes and dreams because they grew up in a different time or different environment. People in your life may not want to give up the amount of time they get to spend with you, or they may be afraid that your success will change the mechanics of your relationship. Maybe they had a bad experience and are honestly trying to prevent you from having the same, but one persons experience does not ensure that yours will be the same. Don’t let other people keep you from doing what you want and need to do. While their support and encouragement would be nice, your success is in your hands.

“I can’t”

I grew up in a house with 2 brothers and a neighborhood of primarily boys. I was also a tomboy and not much into “girly” things. I worked as hard as my brothers around the house and was never relieved of chores because I was a girl. As I grew up, I was consistently reminded that I could do anything the boys could do. When I would voice feelings of inability, my step-dad used to say, “can’t never did anything”. IF you want something badly enough…YOU CAN! Remember the book, “The Little Engine That Could”? This is important to always remember because when you believe in yourself, anything is possible! Life is hard. Most of us have mountains to climb many times throughout life, but allowing yourself to fall into negative thinking will only hold you back. Even if it’s the most foreign idea to you, tell yourself over and over that YOU CAN do whatever it is that you want to do. If that thing turns out to be something less than what you had hoped for, tell yourself that YOU CAN do something different!

Life is fleeting but possibility is endless! Think positive thoughts and believe in yourself!

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“To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of, because in silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.” –Deepak Chopra

Spicy Chickpea and Sour Tomato Curry with Pasta

I’ve been looking for a recipe like this! I have to try it!

Tom Hirschfeld

Whenever a simple, delicious dish — like this spicy chickpea curry — is placed next to me at the table, it doesn’t just make me happy; I become protective of it in a selfish, rabid dog sort of way.

This recipe is based on Indian khatte channe, which is grounded on good Indian home cooking — but to be fair, it could also have easily been born out of a 1970’s hippie cafe in which cheap eats and a flair for the exotic were popular. In fact, Moosewood Restaurant and its cookbooks always come to mind when I cook this stew. But no matter where it came from or how it found its way to my table, I can tell you that there is a lot to like about this pasta, from the first forkful of twisted noodles loaded with tangy sauce to the last spoonfuls of creamy chickpeas.

I…

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7 Ways A Garden Will Help You Grow

SAM_2919Anyone seeking personal growth understands that finding a focal point for that growth can be difficult.  We all hear others talk about how their lives were transformed by some thing or some life-altering event. There are endless self-help books and seminars on how to travel from where you are to where you want to be emotionally and behaviorally. Writers and speakers share ideas every day about anything from meditation, exercise and healthy eating to career change and money management, but many of us feel as though we’re standing in the middle of a whirlwind of ideas while having no real idea of how to incorporate those ideas into our reality. We want change….improvement. We long for peace of mind, success and accomplishment. Our souls ache for the epiphany that others talk about, but we wake up each day feeling like the train has left us behind and it’s moving so quickly that we have no hope of catching it. Our minds reel with questions; How do I grow? What needs to be improved upon? What does it mean to transform myself? How do I know I won’t fail? When and where do I begin?

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With Spring’s careful and purposeful approach, the perfect time to start is now! Each of us have a unique need or desire for change and even if you can’t quite put your finger on what it is, the search is honestly waiting for you, luggage in hand…..you can hear the beckoning call…..”All Aboard!”

A garden is a good starting point for your journey….and may prove to be a good companion along the way. Gertrude Jekyll is a famous writer and hortoculturist  who devoted her life to gardening. She wrote over 1,000 articles about gardening and created over 400 gardens in the United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom in her lifetime. She is quoted as saying that, “A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”  In order to find the personal growth you’re seeking, you must be mindful of these things and find a way to focus on them. Build a relationship with a garden or two…or even a tree. Talk to it, listen to it…I’m certain it will begin to transform you.

How?, you ask…let me tell you…

#1

Gardening Creates HOPE

One of the things we need when seeking positive change is hope. If we don’t have hope, we will never take the first steps to improvement. So try it. Go to your local garden center or greenhouse and buy a plant; something you have a great affection for. Purchase a flower that isn’t yet blooming (seeds would be even better), a tiny cactus, a seedling tree, a tulip bulb, seeds for a vegetable you like, or maybe a strawberry plant. If the weather where you live is still too cold to plant outside, buy a pot and a bag of (organic) potting soil. Take them home and set aside a little time one evening. Do your best not to rush through the process; read the back of the seed envelope or the tag in the plant and familiarize yourself with how to plant it correctly and what your plant needs (sun exposure, watering frequency, etc…). If you’re the studious type (like me) you can even look up articles online and view youtube videos. Absorb yourself with the knowledge and avoid distraction. Once your planting is complete, you will begin to feel a sense of hope that your efforts and attention will result in something you can enjoy. The more you plant….the more hope you create.

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#2

Gardening Creates PATIENCE

You’ve most likely heard the saying, “good things come to those who wait.” This tends to be true in life, but patience is something many of us are not very good at…especially when it comes to something we want a great deal. Learning to be patient is key to not making bad choices or rushing head strong into something that might take us down the wrong path. Gardening teaches us to wait…because we really have no choice but to let Mother Nature reveal her gifts in her own time. Be careful not to succumb to impatience because this will likely result in you neglecting your plant…ending in…well, you know. Exercise your ability to watch over your plant every day or two and notice the changes that are slowly taking place. Relate those changes to your own life and begin to realize that just because something doesn’t happen today, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

#3

Gardening Creates NURTURING

The process of finding a better you requires nurturing. In order to change the “negatives” you see in yourself you must be WILLING to change them. Whether you’re trying to eat better, quit smoking, lose weight, build on your faith, get out of an unhappy relationship, or find a better job, it is imperative that you acknowledge that those changes are good for you; that you’re making the changes FOR yourself. When caring for your plants, each action requires thought and intention. By nurturing your plant (s), you are exercising your ability to care with determination. Plucking dead leaves, watering, fertilizing, and investigating potential problems (pests, fungus, disease, etc…) helps you focus on seeing the problem and figuring out how to remedy it. Exercising your nurturing muscles and relating them to your own needs can profoundly change the way you see yourself and what you truly deserve. For example, quitting smoking because you HAVE to becomes something you WANT to do for yourself. Playing an active role in caring for plants and experiencing the positive results will help your perspective change in your own life.

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#4

Gardening Creates RESILIENCY

One of the most common obstacles we encounter when seeking self-improvement is our belief that if we don’t succeed on the first try, we should just throw in the towel and accept the unacceptable. Gardening teaches us that shit happens. We might get an unexpected frost or an insect plague of biblical proportion. Maybe the neighbor dog has taken to peeing on your plants or something takes you away from home for an extended period of time preventing you from watering. This shouldn’t stop you from planting more. As in life, you should expect unforeseen problems….bumps in the road…and approach them not by yielding to them, but with determination to resolve the problem and keep trying. Learn from your errors and anticipate potential road blocks. Learning to accept that things will not always go as you hope will make you more resilient and will ward off feelings of inadequacy. If you grow a large garden, you will most likely become very familiar with this idea. As the scale of your gardening increases, your experiences successful or not will also increase. For example you may plant a bush or tree next to your house only to realize a couple of years later that it is too close to the foundation and has to be moved. You may plant your vegetables rows too closely one year, resulting in a smaller crop, which will teach you to plant them farther apart the next season. Disappointment is inevitable in life and in gardening, but deciding that low points don’t mean defeat will carry you strongly into your future.

#5

Gardening Creates ACCOMPLISHMENT

Often times we get stuck where we are out of habit. We do something a certain way for so long we don’t even think of another way of doing it. We begin to feel powerless in our inactivity. We feel trapped in our perceptions and stifled in our acceptance of inability. Planting, growing, harvesting and communicating with nature teaches us that if we give to the Earth, it will inevitable give back. Every spin of a rototiller blade, every shovel full of dirt, every basket of weeds plucked, and every dirty fingernail is a communication to a life-giving, pleasure-giving resource for our bodies, minds, and spirits. On a large scale it can feed the hungry, nourish the onlooker, provide income, and open our  minds to the endless possibilities life has to offer us….we have to offer ourselves. Connecting what we learn in the dirt to what we want to know about ourselves will result in a stronger, more hopeful, more accomplished well-being.

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#6

Gardening Creates PURPOSE

Whether you give a small amount of your time or a great many hours to your new craft, you will certainly reap the benefits of getting outside your head and connecting with nature. Each step and movement and decision and action results in thinking on another level. You will find yourself looking forward to each season, knowing that your presence in it will result in something tangible and pleasing. Your gardening travels may peak an interest in providing food, shelter, and attraction to birds and butterflies (and dragonflies if you’re like me). Vegetable gardens can create purposeful planting and a unique awareness of what you put into your body and a pride in what you’re feeding your loved ones. You will gain a sense of relevancy that you may be lacking and you will be able to put into perspective that how you live life is truly in your hands.

#7

Gardening Creates TRANSFORMATION

Once you decide to garden beyond that one little potted plant or baby tree in the yard, you will begin to experience transformation in a very tangible way. A bare house front can become a beautiful perennial bed. A grassy stretch of yard can become a bountiful resource of good food. A boring fence line can become a rose hedge or raspberry patch. An empty windowsill can become a useful herb garden or gathering for cacti. These transformations will not only be visual, but will also become topics of conversation, resources for nourishment, teaching and quality time with children and grandchildren, and providers of gifts. You will own a sense of pride and accomplishment and an ability to create change with a little effort and creativity. You will begin to possess an entire trust in cause and effect as well as in your own abilities. You will transform yourself from that person on the train station platform with no destination, to a trusting, capable traveler of life with the perspective needed to find a better you.

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

Although my blog is not entirely about gardening, you will find that I post quite often about flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables and all the many ways that gardening is great for your health and overall well-being.

In a previous post,http://jodybug1968.com/2014/02/11/gardens-are-good-for-the-soul/, I talked about the many reasons gardening, in general, is good for us. Organic and genetically modified (GM or GMO) foods are definitely something to consider when planning your garden. I hope you find this information helpful in making some decision.

Do you garden? Are you familiar with organic and non-GMO gardening? Are you interested in reading more about how to have success in organic gardening?

 

First of all….What is GMO?

According to nongmoproject.org, GMO’s or genetically modified organisms, “are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology (also called genetic engineering, or GE). This experimental technology merges DNA from different species, creating unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.”

According to recent studies, approximately 80% of all processed food in the US contains genetically modified ingredients.

 

What is Organic?

The term “organic” refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Specific requirements must be met and maintained in order for products to be labeled as “organic”.

Organic crops must be grown in safe soil, and must remain separate from conventionally grown products. Farmers are not permitted to use synthetic pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.

Organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and be given organic feed. They may not be given antibiotics, growth hormones, or any animal-by-products.

 

Are GMO’s bad?

There is some debate on this subject, but lots of information on the web to educate yourself on.

According to the Institute for Responsible Technology and the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) GMO’s have been found to cause a variety of health issues including allergies, liver problems, infertility, infant mortality, digestive problems, autoimmune disease, mental illness, obesity, ADHD, and cancer. Many scientist believe that we are suffering a significant increase in these ailments and other diseases since the introduction of GMO’s. In addition, it has been found that genetically modified foods increase pesticide use, harm soil quality, create herbicide tolerant “super weeds” which pose serious problems for farmers, and disrupt ecosystems.

Other groups such as Monsanto claim that GMO’s have not been proven to pose any health risk and are a good resource for underdeveloped countries. In addition, it has been stated that genetically modified foods increase yield for farmers, taste better, have more vitamins, resist disease, kill pests, and survive harsh weather conditions. Some claim that the increase in disease over the past few decades is the result of poor diet and increased use of processed foods, but is not the result of the use of genetically modified foods.

While I remain open-minded, I tend to lean toward the “better to be safe than sorry” line of thinking. I have experienced many disappointments in the name of big business. Pharmaceutical companies constantly release drugs approved by the FDA (after significant clinical research) which are advertised as safe , only to be pulled from the market due to serious health problems and even death. The tobacco industry told consumers, for decades, that cigarrettes and other tobacco products were safe, however, we now know that isn’t true. We have consumed innumerable products, blindly believing they were safe, only to find out they contain harmful chemicals or substances which carry serious health risks.  We have been supplied with meat and dairy products full of hormones and antibiotics, then were later informed that research has proven them to be harmful to our health.  We have been sold mosquito sprays and other pesticides only to learn of their toxicity after years of use. Even personal care products (containing phosphates and phthalates)  such as hair spray, shampoo, and lotion have now been proven to be harmful to humans and their environment.

In the pursuit of supplying truly healthy food to myself and my family, I am making some serious changes. Gardening with organic and non-GMO plants and seeds is among those efforts.

 

Is it safe to assume that if I buy organic foods, I am avoiding GMO’s?

While choosing organic foods is a good step in the right direction, this does not ensure that you’re avoiding GMO’s. Organic certification doesn’t require GMO testing, therefore organic foods are not necessarily Non-GMO. If you’re trying to avoid GMO’s, it is best to pick foods that are certified Organic AND Non-GMO.

 

Why are non-GMO and organic foods more expensive?

Organic food is generally more labor intensive since organic farmers don’t use pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or drugs. Alternative pest and weed control tends to take a bit more effort. Organic certification and the maintenance of this status is also expensive. Organic feed for animals is more expensive and organic farms tend to be smaller than conventional farms. Smaller farms generally have higher overhead and often distribute smaller produce volumes. Most organic farms are too small to receive government subsidies, causing additional strain, and many businesses currently choose to purchase goods at a cheaper price rather than choose a healthier choice. Once healthier choices are in higher demand, this will likely change.

I started buying organic products years ago (regardless of the eye-rolling responses from many friends and family). It does tend to cost more, but in the long run, the cost can be balanced. Besides….how much money are you currently spending on medications for allergies, acid reflux, headaches, pain relief, digestive issues, and other health problems that could potentially be alleviated by changing what you’re putting into your body? Growing your own food and preserving it gives you a complete supply of what you need at a much lower cost. Growing and preserving your own food also significantly decreases your exposure to harmful chemicals used in commercial canning methods, AND eliminates the question marks about what you’re truly being fed.

What steps should I take?

Many people feel overwhelmed at the prospect of changing the foods they buy in order to avoid GMO’s and pesticides. Deciding to make those changes is the first step. Once the decision is made, you can take it one step at a time. Here are some suggestions:

  • Start evaluating one meal at a time. Choose breakfast, snacks, lunches, or dinners and evaluate where changes can be made. Once you have eliminated/replaced all or most of the unwanted foods, move on to the next meal.
  • Choose specific food groups to begin modifying. Look at what vegetables, fruits, grains, etc…you eat regularly and make those adjustments until you’re more comfortable with what you’re buying.
  • Grow your own herbs, fruits and vegetables using only organic and non-GMO plants and seeds. 
  • Shop at local farmers’ markets. Many cities and small towns host weekly or monthly farmers’ markets, where local farmers bring their products to an open-air street market and sell organic and non-GMO produce. Often you will find items for less than you’d pay in the grocery store or supermarket since there are no shipping expenses.
  • Buy local foods in season and preserve them. By canning or freezing produce when it’s in season, you will have it stored away for use when they’re off season and potentially more expensive or just unavailable.
  • Join a food co-op. Find out whether there is a natural foods co-op, also called a cooperative grocery store, in your area. Co-ops typically offer lower prices to members, who pay an annual fee to belong. You generally do not need to be a member to shop at a food co-op.
  • Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. Individuals and families purchase “shares” of produce in bulk, directly from a local farm. If you do not have one in your community…start one!
  • Community farming is also becoming more common. Several people will agree to grow different items, each person growing something different, and then share these items at harvest time. This gives the growers the ability to “specialize” in one or two crops, while still reaping the benefits of multiple crops. In addition, members of the group can help out other gardeners if they’re unable to maintain their garden for a period of time creating a stronger sense of community which we could all use a little more of these days.
  • Raise your own livestock when possible. If you’re unable to raise your own, purchase them from a reputable supplier who raises their animals under organic guidelines. There are often local supplies of eggs, beef, chicken, turkey, and other products. 

 

How do I fight pests in my garden without using chemicals?

  • Research the web. We have access to so much information at the tips of our fingers (and green thumbs) including blogs, articles and videos.
  • Subscribe to reputable magazines. If you’re not into searching the web, there are numerous magazines which specialize in gardening organically.
  • Visit websites of organic suppliers. There are all sorts of products ranging from pest nets and pheromone traps, to soaps and oil sprays, to safe bacteria and “good” insects that feed on the destructive ones. There are also a lot of do-it-yourself remedies.
  • Remember to keep your soil in mind when gardening. If you’re bringing soil in from another source, make sure it is organic soil free from pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals.

 

How can I encourage change within my community or with suppliers?

  • Money talks. Use yours wisely. If enough people stop purchasing GMO or specific products containing harmful substances such as pesticides, high fructose corn syrup, phosphates and phthalates, and other chemicals, the manufacturers will supply products without them.
  • Use your voice. Contact your local and state government and voice what you want from them.
  • Educate your children. Educating your children creates expectations for future generations, so talk about this with your families, and communities and work to supply alternative options.
  • Keep educating yourself. Significant knowledge and understanding in these matters will enable you to relay information effectively and help you find more ways to make the necessary changes.

 

There is a wealth of information on the web about GMO’s and organic products. I advise you to research this information on your own in order to educate yourself as this is sure to become more and more relevant. I have included links below including information on how to start a food co-op and where to order non-GMO seeds:

http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/what-is-gmo/

http://rt.com/op-edge/monsanto-gmo-studies-reports-588/

http://www.earthopensource.org/index.php/

http://www.seedsnow.com/pages/everything-you-need-to-know-about-genetically-modified-gmo-foods

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevensalzberg/2013/12/08/controversial-gmo-corn-study-being-retracted-over-authors-objections/

http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_27143.cfm

http://www.helpguide.org/life/organic_foods_pesticides_gmo.htm

http://www.foodcoopinitiative.coop/faqs

http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/organic-pest-control-techniques

 

executive-summary

Let It Be

What do you do when your 15 year old daughter comes home from school, announcing that she is crushing on a boy who you don’t approve of? You’ve heard talk of him getting kicked out of school numerous times over the years due to fighting, marijuana possession, and disrespecting a teacher, among other thrilling adventures. The idea of your sweet girl being tainted by this hoodlum is causing your eye to twitch uncontrollably and the idea of locking her in her room for the next ten years is beginning to seem like a viable option.

Let it be.

Long winded attempts at convincing her that he is not someone she should be interested in will only prove to be a mind-numbing waste of time and will most likely convince her even more that he is Prince Charming. Who knows what causes teen-aged girls to fall for one guy or another? I certainly had my own experiences falling for “bad boys”, and the only real education in this department is experience getting burned…or finding yourself let down when they’re not all that. Obviously you don’t want to encourage it or let her go out with him, but for the most part simple statements reminding her of what you know like, “isn’t he the kid that you told me about last year who was suspended for two weeks for falling through the ceiling after climbing up there to smoke weed?” At best you should subtly remind her of his lack of character and express that she is worthy of much better and then drop it.

How do you respond to a Facebook rant from a friend or relative that  makes you cringe through every painful, humiliating, or even offensive word? 

Let it be.

Nothing good can come from responding to a post that is already embarrassing. It is akin to driving your car into a train wreck in the hopes of clearing the way. I have always been dumbfounded at what possesses people to air their dirty laundry on public forums but it is equally puzzling when others follow suit. I can only suspect that friend, “Bob”, announcing to his 209 Facebook friends that he caught his wife with another guy at the local Rally’s was caused by an unfortunate  lapse in judgement due to emotional devastation. Equally so for cousin “Mindy” who feels compelled to publicly berate her sister for allegedly stealing $50 from her purse on Friday night. The best thing to do is look away! Quickly and quietly become oblivious! Hopefully they will realize their mistake and un-post it.

What should the response be to the stranger in the grocery store who notices you’re buying rice milk, rolls her eyes at you and says, “I don’t know how anybody drinks that! It’s not MILK! I’ve been drinking REAL milk for years and I’m still alive!”

Let it be.

Despite the urge to comment on the fact that she may be alive, but drinking MILK certainly has done nothing for her personality, it would be best to just smile (even if you secretly hope that her gallon of 2% will explode all over her sweatpants and Crocks) and walk away. Chances are this person is lashing out due to something that has nothing to do with you or the non-milk you’re buying. Any defense you might have about being lactose intolerant or the values of veganism will likely only provoke further confrontation. She clearly is making innumerable assumptions and will hopefully reflect back on the “conversation” later and realize that meditation or a prescription for Prozac might be helpful. 

Point being….pick your battles carefully. I’m certainly not saying we should all walk around being mute emotionless zombies or that we should never defend what we believe in, but overly defending your thoughts, ideas, or beliefs often does not result in the other person (s) acceptance of them. Walking through life wearing your defense mechanisms on your sleeve only results in emotional unhappiness and stress. Accept that you cannot change people and 9 times out of 10 your attempts at convincing them they’re  wrong will not prove fruitful, and if the offending person is someone you don’t even know (or someone you have little to no respect for), what’s the point anyway? In order to have more inner Peace and day to day happiness in your life, it’s important to not get riled up about every little thing. Accept that bad behavior is the other person’s problem and don’t make it yours. Let go of negativity every chance you can and you will begin to feel more and more free from anxiety and stress.

 

 

Gardens Are Good For The Soul

I grew up in a small farming community in Michigan. My mother had a very large garden; about 50’x300′, and it was a source of dread for me most days. There was always work to be done; planting in the Spring, endless weeding, harvesting in late Summer and early Fall, canning, freezing, and the ever dreaded plucking of fat, green tomato worms.

I resented this “work” most of the time, mostly because it kept me from my friends who never seemed to have as many chores as my brothers and I. The only enjoyment I got from gardening in those days were the times I sat with my mom in the flower bed while she planted lily of the valley and marigolds; as it was rare time spent with her.from morgue file.com

I left home when I was 16, living mostly in apartments, happy not to have the dirty, broken fingernails, blisters, and calluses that went along with gardening. Other than the occasional house plant, I grew nothing and was perfectly content with buying my produce at the local veggie market or grocery store. Some eight years later I bought my first house; a little log cabin on two acres, nestled by a river and pine trees. Initially, I was busied by redecorating my new home and filling it with my “things”. I took in a couple of dogs, entertained friends, and brought my two children into the world there.

I maintained the lawn, which I never minded, and learned a little about growing fruit tress since there were a half dozen or so that had been planted by the previous owner. The more time I spent in the yard, the more my thoughts pondered things I might like to plant. I found myself wandering through garden centers from time to time, and eventually bought a couple of rose bushes that were half priced. The next summer they boasted blooms that were about 6 inches across and I smiled broadly when my visitors would admire them. From Morguefiles.com

As one might suspect, that led to more and more plantings of various kinds. I planted morning glories outside my daughters’ bedroom window, daisies by the front porch, and a handful of tomato plants next to the shed. Within a couple of years, I had a large rock garden with a variety of perennials and added peppers and cucumbers to my vegetable garden. I started swapping plants with friends and thoroughly enjoyed cooking with the vegetables I had planted.

When my children were very young, I was thrown back into life in apartments due to my divorce and wasn’t able to plant much of anything for about 12 years…only this time I missed it terribly. I would sit with my gardening magazines, and slowly flip through the pages and dream of a day when I would be able to garden once more. I would imagine a large vegetable garden and flower beds that surrounded my future home. I read about the types of flowers that attract butterflies and how to keep hydrangeas blue. I had a scrapbook which was filled with pages of garden sketches and pictures of the blooms I longed to grow one day. I would gaze at gardens of friends and family and found myself unable to resist the urge to sit on the edge

From Morguefiles.com

From Morguefiles.com

of their beds plucking weeds that threatened to encroach on their beautiful plants.

In 2010, I married my husband and we bought a house in my home town. It was a foreclosure home, and had been sitting empty for several years before we purchased it. It had been quite abused and needed an enormous amount of work and although I planned and saved for the work we would do on the house itself, I, not so secretly, couldn’t wait to get my hands (and feet) in the dirt. I worked diligently digging beds and prepping the soil. My husband tilled up a small garden for my vegetables, build 4 raised beds and put up landscape timbers to hold my flowers. I re-aquainted myself with rakes and hoes, and trowels and found a silly sense of joy at my first blister. My daughters spent many hours away from their phones, television, and video games to watch and help me plant and harvest and can. We not only cultivated food for our family, but precious time together being one with Nature.

That was four years ago, and I now have a garden the size of my mother’s. Although it changes a bit from year to year, I have grown tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, peas, beans, cabbage, green onions, squashes, cucumbers, broccoli, carrots, beets, and a variety of other vegetables. I have two large strawberry gardens, various herbs, and I plan to start growing grapes this year. I have over 10 flower beds wrapped beautifully around my house and trees and hope to plant fruit trees and a few maples in the Spring. As opposed to my childhood years, I welcome the dirty fingernails and am never happier than when I am covered from head to toe with the earth.

I find it funny to think of that, which caused me so much angst in my youth, and how much joy it brings me today. I spend many a Winter day planning my Spring  rituals and answering questions like, “which herbs do I need to make my own chamomile tea?”, “Do I have enough room to try sweet potatoes?”, and “What can I use to better support my peas this year? “. I still flip through seed catalogues and gardening magazines to find the right

from morgue file.com

from morgue file.com

heirloom veggies and new flowers I want to grow. I love to see the shelves in my basement filled with canned food I made from my own harvests and my freezer full of berries and vegetables. It brings me happiness to know I am feeding my family with foods free from pesticides and preservatives and I love sharing plants once again with neighbors and friends.

I have found, though, that maybe the most important thing I have learned from gardening is the sense of wellbeing it brings. According to many health studied, gardening has been found to improve your health by lowering the risk of dementia, inflammatory diseases, and immune illnesses. It has been proven to lower stress, increase attention, and brighten one’s mood. Gardening is also a fun way to get exercise which can increase flexibility and strength. It has even been found that the soil contains a harmless bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae that can act to increase serotonin levels in the brain which can aid in depression. Research has also shown that eating foods that are grown locally are the best for consumption.

In addition to health benefits, gardening results in a profound sense of accomplishment. Working the soil, planting the seeds, supplying water and food for the plants to grow, and keeping them free from disease and weeds, all result in a tangible, rewarding supply of

From Morguefile.com

From Morguefile.com

fruits, vegetables, and flowers which are life giving. Canning your crops and making teas, juices, sauces, and even wine can promote creativity and gifts to others.

Planting also keeps us in tune with nature and reminds us that we thrive when it thrives. Digging in the ground creates a bond between us and Mother Earth and enforces the knowledge that you reap what you sow. It provides quiet time to revel in the sounds of birds and other wildlife; a meditation of sorts. It reminds us of the importance of rain and sunshine and helps us to appreciate both. It gives us something to look forward to when the Winter seems long. It helps us accept the circle of life and the idea that there is a season for everything. As the song goes :

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time of war, a time of peace
A time of love, a time of hate
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time of peace, I swear it’s not too late!

And from the Bible (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) :

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

In your efforts to grow better as a person, happier with life, or more at Peace with universe…my advice is to plant something. Regardless of how much space you have or what that something is…plant something. On a windowsill, in a clay pot, on a patio, in a

From Morguefile.com

From Morguefile.com

greenhouse, or in your yard…plant something. Garden! Garden to your heart’s content! Gardening is good for the soul!

Some information learned at the following sites:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/08/why.gardening.good/

http://www.ecopsychology.org/journal/gatherings8/html/healing/gardening_cock.html

Magical Snow

It was one of those long Winter nights, you know, after Christmas but months before Spring. Night owl that I am, I was wandering about in my pajamas thinking to myself that I should get some sleep…lots to do tomorrow.

My oldest daughter, Haley was about 4. Like me, she would often fight sleep…I think she was afraid she was going to miss something really important. I was washing the dinner dishes in the sink and watching the snow accumulating outside the kitchen window, wondering how bad the roads would be tomorrow. Much to our dismay, we hadn’t had snow for Christmas that year; not much snow at all up to that point, but it had been falling for hours. I was noticing how bright the moon was when I heard Haley behind me, “Momma, it’s snowing”, she said as she smiled with complete and utter joy.

” I see that” I said, smiling back at her. It always amazed me how happy she was about little things. It never took much to please her. She reached her arms up to me so I could hold her up to the window and we both gazed out at the night.

Living in Michigan, it always confuses me why so many people disliked the snow. You would think that they would at least become accustomed to it and find a way to accept it, but most of the people I knew were generally displeased by it…even annoyed. Not Haley, though…she loved it as much as I did.

I looked at her little cherub face glowing with anticipation. I suspect she was thinking about tomorrow and all the fun she would have playing with her new sled. “You want to go play?” I asked her, crinkling my nose at her as though it was our little secret. The responsible mother in me knew it was 2am and I should send her back to bed, but the child in me overcame those thoughts quickly and wanted to embrace the moment. How many moments like this do we really get in a lifetime, after all. Haley giggled uncontrollably, “Oh Yes!” she said as she hugged my neck.

I helped her wiggle into her snowsuit and boots, put on her mittens and hat, and dressed myself for the cold, forgetting we were still  in our5523989528_d111bae4e9_b pajamas. I peeked in at my youngest daughter, Hannah who was sleeping soundly. I thought about waking her to see if she wanted to go out with us, but knew she would think I was crazy. She is not a fan of Winter. I snuggled her blankets around her and took Haley’s hand as we walked out into the wintery night.

For the next two hours, Haley and I shared the wonder of a moonlit winter’s eve. The clouds made room for the stars and moon to light the night while they showered us with twinkling snowflakes that melted on our noses and cheeks. We build a little snowman and stopped now and then to lie down and make snow angels as we watched the stars shine against the night. It was silent except for our laughter and it felt as though that beautiful night was made just for us. The magical snow sparkled on the ground like a trillion tiny diamonds nestled in cotton. Haley showed me perfect little snowflakes that rested on the fuzz of her baby blue mittens and was amazed when I told her that no two of them are the same.

6338706083_e2c6b28999_bWe stood hand in hand looking upward at the icy glitter falling from above. It was so quiet you could hear it landing on the ground around us as the moon drifted across the sky. Haley laughed when I send handfuls of snow flying over our heads , “do it again!”, she exclaimed as she spread her arms as if she wanted to fly with it. Our faces were cold and rosy red from the crisp air but our spirits were unaffected by the cold. It was truly a Winter Wonderland!The sky started to glow a little brighter as dawn began it’s approach. We slowly trotted to the house, filled with joy….pure and perfect joy. As I helped Haley out of her bundles of snow covered clothing and made two steamy cups of cocoa, I knew this night would always be a part of us. I tucked Haley into bed with Hannah and curled up between them for a few hours of sleep and my soul radiated happiness. I knew in my heart that these are the things of real value. Nothing, past, present, or future, could ever take this away.