Thursday, December 30, 2010

For healthy eating, swallow a rainbow

I came across this great article on healthy eating this morning  For Healthy Eating, Swallow a Rainbow, and wanted to share it with you. As it turns out the author of the article, Patty James, has a book as well.

I liked the way she broke out the various properties the veggies have that our bodies need to be healthy.

Enjoy.

Life is a journey, enjoy the trip!
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch


By Patty James

Why is it important to eat lots of different colored fruits and vegetables? Because each colored vegetable and fruit has unique properties and there is strong evidence of interactions between the colors that are beneficial to your health. Eating by the Rainbow is vitally important to your well-being.
Here are the colors:
Red foods contain lycopene that helps rid the body of damaging free radicals and protects against prostate cancer, as well as heart and lung disease. The red foods are loaded with antioxidants thought to protect against heart disease by preventing blood clots, and may also delay the aging of cells in the body.
  • Tomatoes
  • Beets
  • Radishes
  • Red cabbage
  • Cherries
  • Cranberries
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Red grapes
  • Red peppers
  • Pomegranates
  • Red potatoes
  • Watermelon
  • Raspberries
  • Red apples
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
Orange and Yellow foods contain alpha carotene, which protects against cancer, but also contain beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, protecting the skin against free-radical damage. Beta-carotene is also good for night vision.
  • Yams and sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Yellow apples
  • Apricots
  • Butternut squash
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Mangoes
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges and Tangerines
  • Papayas
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Yellow peppers
  • Persimmons
  • Pineapple
  • Pumpkin
  • Yellow summer or winter squash
  • Sweet corn
  • Yellow tomatoes
Green foods contain the chemicals that help ward off cancer by inhibiting carcinogens. Chlorophyll is the component that makes plants green, and it is purifying in the body. Many green foods also contain calcium and minerals.
  • Kale, spinach, and other leafy greens
  • Green apples
  • Artichokes
  • Sea vegetables
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Green cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Green grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Lettuce
  • Limes
  • Green onions
  • Peas
  • Zucchini
Blue, Indigo, and Violet foods contain the compound anthocyanins that not only give food their color but also have been shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and increasing heart health.
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Purple grapes
  • Figs
  • Raisins
  • Plums, fresh and dried
  • Eggplant
White foods, though not part of the color of the rainbow, contain properties that have anti-tumor qualities, such as allicin in onions as well as other health-improving antioxidants such as the flavanoids. The white foods, like bananas and potatoes, contain potassium as well.
  • Bananas
  • Onions
  • Cauliflower
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Jicama
  • Mushrooms
  • Potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Turnips
So how do you incorporate these fruits and vegetables into your daily eating habits?
Here are some sample menus to get you started:
Breakfast:
  • An orange. Sauté 1/2 red pepper, ½ onion, 2 shitake mushrooms, and 2 cloves garlic. Add 3 cups leafy greens (spinach leaves are fine) and 3 eggs. Cook until eggs are done and serve.
  • Strawberries. Oatmeal made with cubed butternut squash or pureed pumpkin, topped with raw walnut pieces and raw pumpkin seeds.
Lunch:
  • Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with sprouts, lettuce, tomato slices, avocado, and grated carrots. Serve with a 2-cup salad made with romaine lettuce and raw cauliflower, broccoli, and garbanzo beans.
  • Spinach salad topped with black olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, and cauliflower. Add beans or chicken if you like. Toss with fresh lemon juice and either olive oil or flax oil or a combination of the two. Sprinkle fresh parsley, chopped, on top.
Dinner:
  • Grilled fish or chicken breast or black beans and brown rice (protein). Coleslaw made with green and red cabbage with red onions and grated carrots. Baked yam.
  • Pasta primavera made with spinach fettuccini, sautéed red peppers, onions, garlic, zucchini, carrots, and whatever else is in season.
Snack:
  • 1 cup blueberries and cantaloupe
  • Jicama slices with salsa and celery with hummus or peanut or almond butter
  • Pineapple chunks and banana slices
  • Raw veggies with your favorite dip. Hummus is a good choice.
  • Tangerine slices with herb tea
Remember that you need 5–9 cups of vegetables and fruits a day for good health. Make sure at least half of your veggies are raw. Don't forget that juicing can incorporate many colored fruits and veggies easily and may be a good choice for those who may not be able to chew raw fruits and veggies.
Patty James is a Certified Natural Chef with a Master's degree in Holistic Nutrition and was founder and director of the Patty James Cooking School and Nutrition Center, the first certified organic cooking school and nutrition center in the country. She created the Patty James Health Guide, a guide to life-long healthy eating and lifestyle. Patty is a frequent guest speaker in public and private schools around the US, the Clinton Foundation in New York, as well as to health practitioners and organizations. Patty runs Shine the Light on America's Kids, an organization whose mission is to shine the light on all aspects of kids' health in America. She is the author of More Vegetables, Please! Website: PattyJames.com and ShineTheLightOnKids.org

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Weight Loss Sabotage - Prevention.com

Here is the question of the day.  Have any of us not run into this in some form.  Deliberate or not... hmmmmm...

Weight Loss Sabotage

Dieting with the Enemy
Are friends and family making you fat?
Want to really bring out the worst in people? Try weight loss. Ten pounds or a ton, you'll be showered with so much fattening food--sabotage by people who claim to love you--that it will send the price of sugar cane and lard futures through the roof.
Why is that?
I've seen it happen so many times to my weight loss patients that when they come in and confess they fell off the wagon, I'm ready with my ritual response: "Who did this to you?"

They're always shocked to think that someone else may have had a hand in their weight loss failure. Then it dawns on them: Oh yeah, the chocolate cake care package Mom just sent, the surprise candy from the usually unthoughtful husband, the coworker who left the gift-wrapped Oreos on your desk. "Why is that?" they always ask. Dietsaboteurs," I explain. "They're everywhere." In fact, in one survey, 24,000 overweight women reported that weight loss created problems in their relationships that regaining the weight would have resolved.

Friend or Foe?
The problem usually starts because you're in change mode (and darned happy to be there), but your friends and family aren't.


"Rarely would a real friend malevolently undermine your diet," says nutrition professor Audrey Cross, PhD, of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. "They just do unconscious things to keep the relationship the way it was." And there are lots of reasons why.


They feel guilty. Your success pricks their conscience, since they may think they should be pursuing weight loss too. But for many, teasing you back to normal with "you're doing so well; a little won't hurt" sabotage is often easier. And if it starts an eating frenzy that ends in weight gain, sadly, that's secretly okay with friends like these. You've proven once again that weight loss is impossible; now they can relax and not try.

They don't understand. Other folks (often spouses!) who've never had a weight problem can't understand why you don't go back to eating normally now that you've lost that weight. And besides, they've suffered enough with all the changes around the house, and they want this to be over.


They miss the old you. Or more specifically, the food experiences you once shared. Food is often how we express love. Baking cookies for your kids (and of course eating some together). Or going to happy hour with coworkers. When my client Stephanie began progressing, her husband started showing up Friday nights with a big chocolate bar, something they used to enjoy together.


How do you politely say "back off" to those you love?

Make Friends with the Enemy
Researchers have figured out three classic actions likely to pave the way to long-term weight loss success and fend off sabotage, whether deliberate or subconscious, says Jessica Kasinoff, coordinator at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center in Durham, NC.


Start with exercise. It builds muscle, burns calories, reduces stress, and, best of all, creates the positive mood that makes you strong enough to avoid saboteurs.


Monitor your exercise and food. Plan your workouts and meals, and write down every bite. This will keep you honest, and it may also help you recognize the people and events that do you in. Then you can develop strategies to deal with them.


Create a supportive environment. "It's important to ask for help," says Carlo DiClemente, PhD, coauthor of Changing for Good, whose strategies for curing drug and alcohol addicts are now being used to help people change the way they eat.
Asking is tricky because we really don't know how to do it. We tend to believe that if people loved us, they'd know what to do. Not true! My client Sharon likes it if her husband takes her plate away from her when he thinks she's had enough. Natalie, on the other hand, would secretly eat twice as much if her husband did that.


The staff at the Duke Center finds this so critical that they have created a "Dear Supporter" letter that goes home with dieters after their 3-week stay. You could write such a letter yourself if you have trouble voicing your needs directly.

 
Whether you write it or say it, be specific about your weight loss needs
. Even those closest to you can't read your mind. For instance, if being constantly asked how much you've lost will drive you to cheat, let people know. For others, constant checking in may help keep them on track. If you need support when the late-night munchies hit, ask your friend if it's okay to call.

With Friends Like These ...
There are some downright vicious diet saboteurs who work to undermine you. They may pressure you to eat the way they do in order to remain part of a group, not-so-subtly implying that you're no friend if you don't. Dr. DiClemente suggests saying clearly out loud, "This is not helpful to me." They can't deny they've heard you, and you have a chance to recommit to your plan of action. You may have to avoid them for a while or find less toxic friends. If all else fails, "call a sponsor," he says, lapsing into the classic Alcoholics Anonymous strategy. Join a group such as Weight Watchers for support, or call someone you know who will talk you through it.


If you've been direct in asking your spouse for help but don't get it, you may need to seek couples' or family counseling. Poor response often suggests something else is going on.


Most family and friends will be glad to help if you nudge them in the right direction.



Last Updated: 10/04/2004 Copyright (c) Rodale, Inc. 2003
Weight Loss Sabotage - Prevention.com

Article has some valid points... hope it was useful to you.
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Christmas Trees From Around the World... Story of a Christmas Carol

The following photos and descriptions came to me in an email.  So did the story of the Christmas Carol.  I enjoyed looking at the wonderful Christmas trees and decided to pass them along.

I found the story of the Christmas carol to be intriguing.  I have no idea as to the accuracy of either the photos or the story... none the less twas enjoyable...

May it bring joy to you as well...

Life is a journey, enjoy the trip.
Mary E. Robbins

**********

Christmas Trees From Around The World





The Capitol Christmas tree in Washington , D.C. , is decorated with 3,000 ornaments that are the handiwork of U.S. schoolchildren. Encircling evergreens in the 'Pathway of Peace' represent the 50 U.S. states.



The world's largest Christmas tree display rises up the slopes of Monte Ingino outside of Gubbio, in Italy 's Umbria region. Composed of about 500 lights connected by 40,000 feet of wire, the 'tree' is a modern marvel for an ancient city.



A Christmas tree befitting Tokyo 's nighttime neon display is projected onto the exterior of the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka.



Illuminating the Gothic facades of Prague's Old Town Square, and casting its glow over the manger display of the famous Christmas market, is a grand tree cut in the Sumava mountains in the southern Czech Republic.



Venice 's Murano Island renowned throughout the world for its quality glasswork is home to the tallest glass tree in the world. Sculpted by master glass blower Simone Cenedese, the artistic Christmas tree is a modern reflection of the holiday season.



Moscow celebrates Christmas according to the Russian Orthodox calendar on January 7.

For weeks beforehand, the city is alive with festivities in anticipation of Father Frost's arrival on his magical troika with the Snow Maiden.

He and his helper deliver gifts under the New Year tree, or yolka, which is traditionally a fir.



The largest Christmas tree in Europe (more than 230 feet tall) can be found in the Praa do Comrcio in Lisbon , Portugal .  Thousands of lights adorn the tree, adding to the special enchantment of the city during the holiday season.



'Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree': Even in its humblest attire, aglow beside a tiny chapel in Germany 's Karwendel mountains, a Christmas tree is a wondrous sight.



Ooh la la Galeries Lafayette! In Paris , even the Christmas trees are chic. With its monumental, baroque dome, plus 10 stories of lights and high fashion, it's no surprise this show-stopping department store draws more visitors than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower .



In addition to the Vatican 's heavenly evergreen, St. Peter's Square in Rome hosts a larger-than-life nativity scene in front of the obelisk.



The Christmas tree that greets revelers at the Puerta del Sol is dressed for a party. Madrid 's two-week celebration makes millionaires along with merrymakers. On December 22, a lucky citizen will win El Gordo (the fat one), the world's biggest lottery.



A token of gratitude for Britain 's aid during World War II, the Christmas tree in London 's Trafalgar Square has been the annual gift of the people of Norway since 1947.



Drink a glass of gluhwein from the holiday market at the Romer, Frankfurt 's city hall since 1405 and enjoy a taste of Christmas past.




Against a backdrop of tall, shadowy firs, a rainbow trio of Christmas trees lights up the night (location unknown).

*********

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me.

The real meaning of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" - which I didn't know...


What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?

This week, I found out.

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching,Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness,Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol...so pass it on if you wish.

Merry Christmas Everyone

Thursday, September 02, 2010

What Would It Take for You to Be Still?

Being still has always been a challenge for me... It seems like my mind is always on warp speed. Buzzing along even as I try to go to sleep.  I  have noticed that often I will wake up with a solution... or at least a series of ideas ... about whatever it was I was mulling over the night before.  Unfortunately I can also wake up exhausted from my mind's night work...lol...

So, actually being able to be still... enjoy a moment of absolute stillness sounds delightful to me...

Enjoy...

Life is a journey, sometimes the trip is rather noisy...
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch: 
307.788.0202

What Would it Take for You to be Still?
 By Catherine Price
O, The Oprah Magazine  |  August 04, 2010

Catherine Price meditating
Photo: Julian Dufort
How can you learn to slow down time, quiet the mental chatter, and savor life's breezes? With mindfulness, one snowcapped mountain meditation at a time.


When I decided to take up meditation, it seemed so easy—slip on a pair of yoga pants, force your legs into half lotus, and "om" your way to serenity and bliss. Forget that my hips are too tight for even a quarter of a lotus, or that the last time I felt truly serene, prescription drugs were involved. I had to try it—I needed to find a way to slow things down.

Lately it's felt like my life is on warp speed. Weekends blur into months; months blur into seasons. I eat fast, I talk fast, I walk fast—I swear I even sleep fast. And I find it almost impossible to sit still. All that research showing that fidgeting burns tons of calories is good news for me. I may get a lot done, but smell the roses? I'm not even getting a passing whiff.

We've all had the experience of sensing time decelerate naturally when we're not so thrilled about what we're doing (think torturous spinning class or hour-long "synergy workshop" at the office). As my dear grandmother would have said, it takes only one colonoscopy to prove that time is relative. But what about the more enjoyable times in life? I hoped that practicing the popular and proven type of meditation called mindfulness—which focuses on bringing awareness to the present moment—might help me slow those times down as well.

Ready to begin, I went straight to the source: Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, the founder of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Kabat-Zinn is the creator of an eight-week course called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which he began teaching in 1979 and which is now the largest and oldest meditation-based clinical program in the world. (Kabat-Zinn's program is taught at the University of Massachusetts, but you can find other MBSR courses around the country.)

There are many types of meditation, so why did I opt for MBSR? Two reasons. First, I liked that it's taught in a secular context; even though it's based on some core principles of Buddhism, I didn't need any background knowledge to begin. Second, as someone who wants to understand why I'm doing something—especially when that thing is challenging—I liked the idea that there was scientific proof of its effectiveness. (Because its curriculum is so consistent, it's one of the most studied forms of meditation in the world.)

Kabat-Zinn suggested I start at home by practicing one or two guided 20- to 45-minute exercises six days a week (yes, even meditators need a day off). After we talked about my reason for wanting to meditate—Kabat-Zinn says it's important to identify your motivation before you begin, or you'll be tempted to give up—he recommended that I kick off my practice with what he thought would be an easy starting point: a visualization called the mountain meditation. I loaded my iPod with the 20-minute exercise, which requires you to sit erect on the floor or a chair, close your eyes, and observe your breathing as you imagine a mountain. First, you notice small details—the trees that cover its slopes, perhaps a dollop of snow at the peak—and eventually you try to imagine becoming the mountain itself, feeling its strength and solidity and noticing that even when it's battered by the wind or drenched with rain, its rock-hard interior remains stable and calm. (Meditation teachers love metaphors.)

The goal of the mountain meditation is the same as with every other mindfulness technique—whether you're focusing on an image, your breath, or sensations in your body, you're trying to coax your mind into what Kabat-Zinn calls a state of nondoing. That's not the same as doing nothing. Rather, it means you're not thinking about your grocery list or the conversation you had with a friend last night or the unfinished report sitting on your desk at work. Nor are you trying to force your mind to go blank or conjure up any special feelings. You're concentrating on just one thing, experiencing each moment as it happens, and trying to be—if I might quote Van Halen—right here, right now. 
 
What does experiencing the moment have to do with imagining yourself as a mountain? Think of it as strength training. By learning to quiet your mind's chatter and concentrate solely on your mental Rockies, you're gaining the focus necessary to stay present when you're not actively meditating. The point is to avoid cruising through life on autopilot, so wrapped up in your daily routine that you don't notice the world around you. "Mindfulness is about living your life as if it really mattered," says Kabat-Zinn. "If you're not mentally present in the small moments, you could be missing half your life."

If this nondoing sounds easy, take 20 minutes and try the mountain exercise yourself. It won't be long before your mountain—which in my case was less Mount Everest and more like the label on an Evian bottle—drifts away and is replaced by a game of free association: A mountain reminds you of skiing, which reminds you of a family vacation, which reminds you of the weekend, which reminds you that a friend invited you to dinner on Saturday, which reminds you that you never got back to her and that maybe you should be writing her an e-mail instead of sitting on the floor pretending you're a mountain—which reminds you that you're supposed to be sitting on the floor pretending you're a mountain, which makes you mad at yourself for letting your mind wander. And then—bam. Not only are you no longer cultivating intimacy with the present moment, you're committing one of mindfulness's biggest faux pas: beating yourself up for getting distracted. (As soon as you start making judgments, you're out of the moment.) Kabat-Zinn didn't say this explicitly, but I'm pretty sure that mindfulness exercises should not include obscenities.

After a few days pretending to be a mountain (and, in a different exercise, a lake), it became clear that I am not a visual person. Unable to picture a mountain in the first place, let alone concentrate on it for 20 minutes, I compensated by imagining my breath flowing up my body and rushing out the top of my head—which worked better, until I realized I'd turned my calm snowy peak into a volcano. So with Kabat-Zinn's blessing, I moved on to a meditation that I hoped might come more naturally to me: the body scan. One of the key exercises in the MBSR course, it's 45 minutes of carefully guiding your attention up and down your body, trying to home in on the sensations in each isolated part. The exercise begins with your left big toe and, unfortunately in my case, it often ends there—as Kabat-Zinn likes to point out, while it's very difficult to learn to "fall awake" (become connected to the present moment), it's quite easy, when meditating, to fall asleep.

Still, I stuck with it. I liked the challenge of trying to harness my mind, and I was intrigued by studies showing that MBSR does even more than that. In 2003, for example, scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison examined a group that included alumni of Kabat-Zinn's eight-week course, and found that when they received flu shots, the meditators' immune systems produced more antibodies in response to the vaccine than did the nonmeditators'. In a 1998 University of Massachusetts study, patients with psoriasis who meditated while receiving ultraviolet treatments for their skin healed four times faster than the control group—regardless of whether they had any previous meditation training. Researchers don't yet understand all the details of why changes like these occur, but one possible explanation is that this type of meditation reduces stress and helps people develop a more positive outlook, both of which have been shown to strengthen the body's immune system.

What's more, according to researcher Norman Farb, who studies meditation and experimental psychology at the University of Toronto, such mindfulness-based meditation can actually change the way you use your brain. As Farb explains it, most of the time, we (by which I mean your average nonmeditating American) respond to new stimuli and experiences automatically, based on how we think they'll affect us. A traffic jam isn't just cars; it's a problem that will make us late for dinner—so when we see a red wall of taillights in front of us, we become stressed-out. A pair of sneakers strewn in the doorway aren't just discarded shoes; they're an annoying obstacle. So when we trip over them, we (by which I mean your average nonmeditating Catherine) get irritated with our husbands. In other words, we don't just experience, we evaluate—and then respond without thinking (clogged highway = extra minutes stuck in the car = misery).

Typically this type of narrative processing takes place in the medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain behind the center of your forehead that coordinates complex behaviors and thoughts. (It's also the part of the brain that's being used when your mind starts to wander.) While it's possible to stifle this default way of thinking, trying to do so is like forcing yourself to go to the gym after years of inactivity—sure, you could fight your way through a step aerobics class if you had to, but wouldn't it be nicer to just eat Doritos on the couch?

Farb has found that people who have completed the eight-week MBSR training, on the other hand, are able to activate an entirely different part of the brain—the insula. Located deep inside your gray matter, the insula informs you of what's happening in the present moment without connecting the experience to a specific emotion. When you're thinking this way, a traffic jam doesn't seem like a problem; it's simply a bunch of cars on the road.

The point of meditation is not to stop you from having an emotional response to what's happening in your life—it's to avoid responding purely out of habit. Every situation, if you think about it, is an invitation for you to react in a certain way, but being mindful gives you the chance to decide how to RSVP. Does the sight of bumper-to-bumper traffic mean you have to get stressed-out? Or could you think of those extra 20 minutes as a chance to listen to a favorite CD? (Judging from the increase in my heart rate just from typing "bumper-to-bumper," I've got work to do.) Is it really worth getting angry at my husband over those misplaced sneakers? Or would I rather be thankful for the fact that he folded the laundry? On the flip side, if it turns out you do want to say yes to the invitation—by feeling happy about a new promotion, for example—you can use mindfulness to savor the moment more fully. It doesn't matter whether the experience is good or bad; mindfulness reminds you that when it comes to your reactions, you're the one in charge.

Still, Kabat-Zinn had warned me not to expect that anything magical would happen while I was meditating, or even that it would always feel enjoyable—a caveat that I appreciated whenever I grew irritable or uncomfortable, or found myself counting down the seconds during my daily practice. He also pointed out that meditation is not a quick fix; becoming—and staying—mindful is a lifelong process.

But as I continued experimenting each day with the guided exercises, I was happy to find that they did become easier. I developed some tricks for everyday life, too—like taking a few slow, conscious breaths to bring my attention back to the present moment, or choosing a particular sense to focus on. And I tried not to get annoyed when my mind wandered. As Kabat-Zinn says, stopping your brain from thinking would be like stopping the ocean's waves. It's more productive to simply observe the thoughts without getting carried away by them—and try to tap into the calm that exists beneath the surface.

By training myself to stay focused during the exercises, I've also gotten better at staying present when I'm not actively meditating. As a result, I've discovered that each day is dense with experiences—the breeze against my skin, the play of light on the grass, the sound of my husband's laugh—and if I want to stretch out time, all I need to do is notice them. When I find my mind racing ahead or am tempted to skip my daily practice, I remember another of Kabat-Zinn's sayings that affirms why this is an experiment I want to continue: Both figuratively and literally, we only have moments to live.

For a guide on how to cultivate mindfulness and suggestions for daily practice, download these meditation exercises. To buy Jon Kabat-Zinn's series of practice CDs, go to JonKabat-Zinn.com. To find a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program near you, go to umassmed.edu/cfm/mbsr.

Keep Reading: How mindfulness meditation works for depression, weight loss and marital problems

Catherine Price is a freelance journalist and author of 101 Places Not to See Before You Die (Harper Paperbacks).

How can you learn to slow down time, quiet the mental chatter, and savor life's breezes? With mindfulness, one snowcapped mountain meditation at a time.

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Strategies for Mental Rest and Relaxation - Martha Beck Advice - Oprah.com

I came across this article in newsletter from O Magazine.  It has been an extremely "stressful" couple of months so this article caught my eye... perhaps it will benefit you as well. 

Strategies for Mental Rest and Relaxation - Martha Beck Advice - Oprah.com


Yarn spelling out the word rest
Illustration by Holly Lindem
When things fall apart, your urge is to do something—anything—to put them back together. But what if you can't do that right now? Martha Beck on the hidden blessings of life's little low points.


"I don't know why this is happening!" Rachel wrung her hands like a pioneer laundress. "I'm a good person. I work hard. I'm kind. But lately everything's going to hell. My boyfriend broke up with me, my job was downsized—now I've got mono. What did I do to deserve this?"

The answer? Rachel was born. Her very existence is the occasion for multitudinous peaks and troughs—lungs inflating and deflating, muscles contracting and relaxing. We live in an up-and-down, ebb-and-flow universe, yet we'd much rather flow than ebb. When we find ourselves in the troughs between the peaks of life, some of us (like Rachel) become resistant. The rest of us (like me) panic.

Right now, with the global economy in a trough and social institutions toppling like bowling pins on beer night, it's quite likely you're either experiencing a downturn like Rachel's or worrying that one is on the way. As much as I wish I could offer strategies to sidestep a low point, what I can offer are a few tips on the gentle art of surviving what I call the in-between place.

Step One: Relax into the Valley
I'm writing this in a dark airport hotel in Africa, after being stranded in a freak five-hour traffic gridlock that blocked all access to the airport. Dozens of planes took off empty, leaving hapless passengers haggling for seats on later flights. A thunderstorm struck as I waited in line outside for seats that were ultimately unavailable. It knocked out the electrical power just as the Bank Gods back in America decided I couldn't possibly be where I am and barred my access to cash.

Now, compared with a life trough like Rachel's, my travel snafu is trivial. But it still gave me that vertiginous, unsupported feeling of everything going wrong at once. Ruined plans and unfulfilled expectations remind us that we have little control over most situations, and that our very lives are—I'm sorry, but it's true—temporary. This scares us so much we resist every downturn, from a demotion to a breakup, as if it were death itself. We clutch at straws, passionately embrace denial, or pretend things won't go wrong (even when they already have).

These options—trust me, I've tried them all—don't work.

If you're going into a valley, do what you did as a small kid on the big shiny playground slide: Let go and ride it down. Accept that what's happening is happening. Then immediately implement step two.

Step Two: Fear No Evil
Every traditional wisdom culture has metaphors for the ups and downs of life. In the Good Book, there's a particular reference to difficult times as "the valley of the shadow of death." The Psalmist who coined the term promptly recommends the best way to travel through it: Fear no evil. Couldn't be simpler, right?

Riiiiiiiiiight.

Unshakable calm is fabulous in theory, but in practice—when your dreams are shattered as Rachel's were, or even when you're soaked, cashless, and confused in a foreign country—fearlessness may seem impossible. It isn't.

I just relearned this from a wise fellow traveler: a tired, cranky 1-year-old whose mother was waiting in line ahead of me, wild-eyed with stress. The kid, catching Mom's vibe, looked ready to pitch a full-on fit. Great, I thought as he opened his mouth and drew a deep breath. Just anticipating the shrieks to come was enough to cut through my last nerve like a chain saw. But instead of screaming, the baby looked directly into my eyes, furrowed his brow, and said, "Oy-yoy-oy!"

I swear he sounded exactly like Rodney Dangerfield.

I laughed out loud, which let the rain hit my tongue, which reminded me: I had water. I also had half a candy bar. I even had one credit card that still might work. Most important, I had friends old and new, a world of human beings who've been visiting the valley of the shadow regularly since infancy. I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, oh worried, precocious, articulate African baby.

It often surprises me that such simple encounters can switch off fear, but it's neurologically inevitable; psychologists have found our brains can't simultaneously experience fear and appreciation. That's why it's so helpful to make a list of things that give you comfort, support, and hope. When things keep going wrong and fear returns, lengthen your list. As this practice trains your brain not to fear, you'll notice there are wonderful things to be found in the valleys between your so-called peak experiences.

Step Three: Get the Message
"This is more than coincidence," Rachel brooded. "Screwing up so many things at once? Something out there is trying to ruin my life." I agree with Rachel that when we tumble into a really deep valley, something more than chance often seems to be at work. But after years of coaching, I believe whatever's "out there" isn't trying to ruin our lives. It's trying to save them.

Think about it: Humans are the only creature in nature that resist the pattern of ebb and flow. We want the sun to shine all night, and when it doesn't, we create cities that never sleep. Seeking a continuous energetic and emotional high, we use everything from exciting parties to illegal chemicals. But natural ebbs—the darkness between days, the emptiness between fill-ups, the fallow time between growing seasons—are the necessary complements of upbeats. They hold a message for us. I heard that message an hour ago, when I relaxed in the rain. Rachel heard it when she put aside fear just for the duration of our conversation. If you listen at your life's low points, you'll hear it, too. It's just one simple, blessed word. Rest.

Step Four: Rest Like You Mean It
My friend Kathy Kolbe, behavioralist extraordinaire, often wears a T-shirt that says DO NOTHING WHEN NOTHING WORKS. If nothing's working for you, if you feel as though you're pushing forward against the grain, the most productive and proactive thing you can do is nothing. Nature is turning you inward, to gain power through peace, rather than outward to gain power through activity.

If this feels alien to you, watch animals. When nothing's working for them no matter how hard they try, they curl up or stretch out and surrender. They love the valley of the shadow: It's a dim, quiet, perfect place to gather strength. In Africa I watched a pride of lions, tired from an unsuccessful hunt, lie down and purr like tractor engines for hours. One of my friends observed, "You know, they rest like they mean it."

Most humans, by contrast, rest in a state of anxiety, guilt, and unease. We don't mean it. This keeps life's downtimes from fulfilling their natural function, which is to restore and heal. I'll never forget the day a client told me she was "de-e-e-presssed," speaking so slowly that I heard "deep rest." This was accurate: Even grief, when accepted fearlessly, is restorative. Some therapists call it "the healing feeling." So, though we often see life troughs as the universe's conspiracy to ruin us, they're actually our own true nature inviting us to lay down our weary heads.

I learned this from a man named Dan Howard, who spends his whole life teaching people "intentional resting." After half an hour's instruction, Dan's presence and simple methods melted me like butter. I think I was purring myself. You can learn more from Dan's Web site (IntentionalResting.com), but for now, I'll summarize.

When to rest? When you feel even a little bit like Rachel did during her recent ebb, or like I did struggling through travel hell, life is inviting you to sink into rest. To some degree, you'll feel blocked, tense, joyless, weepy, weak, and hopeless. Strangely, you'll probably feel certain that simply resting—doing nothing when nothing works—would be disastrous. This is the lie of the crazed human ego, resisting the natural peaks and troughs that define all nature. See through it.

Get 5 tips on how to conquer your resistance to rest
 
How to rest? Here are some of Dan Howard's instructions for conquering your resistance:

1. Find the spot in your body or mind that's experiencing the most intense discomfort.

2. Instead of avoiding or covering up the feeling, pour your attention into it.

3. Think the word relax. Notice what happens.

4. When you've had about a minute to relax, think the word rest. Offer it as an invitation for your tired feet, your cramped back, your broken heart. Actually say to yourself, "I'm resting for my heart now."

5. Mentally scan through your body and mind, inviting each troubled thing to rest.

I had to do this a few times before it kicked in. Then I felt a visceral ka-chunk, as if a misaligned part of my body had slipped back into place. The more I practiced, the more quickly and deliciously the feeling recurred. The simple intention to rest, consistently applied, turns the valley of the shadow into sweet surrender. Honestly, it's that simple.

When I'm talking to clients whose lives have hit a low point, it's always quite clear that life is telling them to rest. When I walked Rachel through Dan's exercises, she practically fell asleep in my lap. As she's continued to rest, luxuriously doing nothing when nothing works, her body and heart have healed.

Of course, when I'm the one typing on a rapidly draining computer battery in a place where a questionable infrastructure has temporarily failed, things seem much more dire. I'm quite reluctant to stop struggling, appreciate my way out of fear, and listen to my life saying—sorry, what was that? Oh, yes. Rest. But when that's your only option, as it seems to be mine, I invite you to join me. Until things improve and something starts to work, let's lie down in the cool, shady valley...and rest like we mean it.

3 creative ways to (finally!) relax
 
When things fall apart, your urge is to do something--anything--to put them back together. But what if you can't do that right now? Martha Beck on the hidden blessings of life's little low points.
DID YOU ENJOY THIS ARTICLE? IF SO, PLEASE SHARE THIS:
 
By Martha Beck
O, The Oprah Magazine  |  August 12, 2010  

 

Friday, August 13, 2010

Near my heaviest weight, yet closer to my goal than ever…

A friend of mine asked me how close I was to my goal today. Her name is Colleen. We used to belong to a group of ladies that were trying to lose weight that has long since disbanded. I started thinking about just how close I am to my goal. The following is my answer…

I miss the group too. Or rather the ladies in the group...lol... I am rather heavy, 302 lbs as of last Sunday. However I am closer to my goals than ever before.

That probably sounds pretty strange... considering that gives me over 150 lbs to lose. 303 pounds is the heaviest I have ever weighed at. If I've been heavier I don't know what the actual weight was.

So How am I closer to my goals ... I am closer to my goals because the depressive compulsive self destructive subconscious beliefs and behaviors that were so much a part of creating this unhealthy weight are no longer dominant in my life.

I eat now because I am hungry, not unconsciously burying emotions or because my stress levels are off the charts. Yes sometimes my stress levels are still off the charts. But my coping skills have shifted.

The compulsive eating got pretty hairy this past year. Having my mother live with us after the family home of over 100 years burned down... after all the issues of the past years ... was... well I don't know what it was. What I do know is that the experience was part of my journey. A journey through depression and panic attacks so bad that the muscles around my chest contracted to the point of making it nearly impossible to breathe.

Who'd a thought that could happen? It's been an interesting and challenging journey...

As hairy as some of it has been, I wouldn't change it. It's taken until now for me to be able to say that and actually mean it. The reason I wouldn't change it is ... this journey is part of what has made me who I am ... And I actually like who I am.

This is relatively new for me, and it feels good. Not everyone likes who I am... and that's ok too.

So... I am actually near my heaviest weight, really looking forward to walking that marathon in May 2011... And closer to my goal than ever before...

Life is a journey, each step adds to the richness of the composite...
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch
307.788.0202

Restarting my Marathon Training! Written August 12, 2010

I did it! 20 minutes of hill work on the elliptical. Total body workout... It has the upper body bars as well. yay! The marathon I am aiming for is on May 29th 2011. Its a mountain race. My goal is to complete it.



Last year my training went awry and it's taken me this long to get my mind back around it. So here goes.



By the Way... Also using shakeology to help reduce the fat load I'm carrying. My last weigh in was at 302 lbs. Goal weight 145.



Sunday Morning I will weigh again.



I will be adding DVD workouts as well as the walking and elliptical work. Hip Hop Abs and Turbo Jam to start. working my way through them. Haven't decided which I am going to start with ... leaning towards Hip Hop Abs Fat burning Cardio. that stripped off the pounds and inches the last time I was using it.



Life is a journey... if you think there is a detour in the road... you create one...

Mary E. Robbins

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Boing.... Boing.... Boing....

Boing... and BOING!!!!! Monday is my usual weigh in day. So I trudged up the stairs, (I've been keeping my scale in an upstairs bedroom that I usually workout in) and stepped on it in my birthday suit. And Thar she Blew! 4 pounds up. Frustrating as that is there is also progress to be seen. Pretty nifty progress at that.

What kind of progress can be seen in a 4 pound gain in an obese (yeah that's what I said OBESE) woman's efforts to become more healthy? Svelte in fact.

Here it is. A year ago that kind of weight bounce, even though I knew my body had significant swelling, would have triggered a nasty depressive swing and uncontrollable compulsive eating. Translated: so depressed I just sat and stared at the wall uncontrollably snarfing anything remotely edible until I simply could not eat anything else.

This is HUGE, no not my rear... oh well yes that is too, but it's not what I'm talking about right now. True I was, NOT HAPPY with the weight gain. But, and it is a HUGE BUT, I am very happy that I am dealing with it in a productive emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically healthful way.

Rather than taking an uncontrollable nose dive into a black hole of self destructive depression I was able to approach this disappointment in a logical productive manner.

Here is the "result", how did I get here, what can I do about it. What steps can I take to obtain the desired result?

This is a great day indeed. I have been living on an extreme emotional/mental/physical roller-coaster ride for the majority of my life. This time around I was able to say "no thanks- I'll pass" when that ride ticket popped up.

A 4 pound weight gain is a relatively minor thing in the overall scope of things. However, in my life any kind of weight gain has been a major trigger. Things get linked up to inappropriate responses. Sorting those out and changing them to appropriate responses can make a major difference in your life.

For me in this instance, I am free to say no to some hugely self-destructive behavior that has been plaguing me for over 30 years. Now I know I can do! Not I wish I could, but I CAN!

There is a major difference. I can do says, I can do this. I may have to change directions, alter plans, and so on. But I can do.

I wish I could- or I'll try - says... I don't really believe I can. I am not really worth the effort. There is always that nagging self doubt. Often hidden deep within, that overrides every thing in your life. That hollow echoing hole of worthlessness.

Look around, see behind the masks, you are not alone in this. You can live, actually live your life, not fake it.... and here is the BIGGIE ... you can live in this life!

Here is the really really cool thing about this. If I can do this. You can too.... you can actually be free to live your life. Free to enjoy the moment. Free to actually live. Rather than subsist between crisis.

With that... I'm off to tackle the rest of my day...



Life is a journey, sometimes it's fun to stand on the top of a hill and look back at how far you've come...
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch
307.788.0202

p.s. BTW I got back on the scale this morning. It was swelling, the 4 pounds has dropped off. Had I triggered into a self destructive cycle, this bit of good news would have been too late to make any positive difference. That 4 pounds of swelling would have more than likely turned into a 15 or 20 pound real fat gain. Before the cycle spent itself.

It's good to be off that ride. ;)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fat tired and bummed... now what do I do

Fat tired and bummed... now what do I do. How do i make things better. I thought I was actually turning things around. but instead of losing weight I've gained 9 lbs since my last entry here. 4 pound gain this past week. Geesh...

I was doing better when I was using the daily food journal. With the calorie count. So I'm going to use it again.

If I continue gaining i will destroy this body. It is already hard to move and breathe. I'm tired all the time.

Gotta go take care of the kennels... the dogs are counting on me for their food water and care. I am just sad... was mad... now sad.

Not binging though... so that is a good thing.

Saw mom this pst week... she looks so very old. Old age can be cruel to these bodies. On a totally selfish note... i am so not ready for her to be old. Pop's the same age... actually about 1 month younger than her. Both will be 83 this yr. July and August respectively. The docs diagnosed Pop with pancreatic cancer. He sounds good... but I always wonder if i will ever hear from him again in this life when he calls. Totally sucks. It seems like we just got to know each other... now his expiration date is coming up fast.

Went to Oregon Trail Days parade with mom and her crew from the adult living facility. I didn't last the whole parade. started getting ill in the heat and left. I was thankful they were there to take care of her. that is such a relief.

I'm not doing so good at even taking care of myself at this point.

It's hard to breathe... I know part of it is my weight... I can not believe I weigh 305 pounds. That 4 pound gain this week really threw me for a loop.

David loves me no matter how fat i am... sometimes i think he prefers me fatter... but the heavier i get the harder it is to breathe. I saw another varicose vein on the inside of my leg yesterday.

Ok... I've got to go ... get up and move... one step at a time... go take care of the kennels. Then call the electrician and get the ceiling fans installed. Then do some paperwork.

You can do this...

Yes you can...

Now move... do it now!

Life is a journey... sometimes it .....
Mary E. Robbins
3077880202

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gun Ownership… the why’s and why nots

I was perusing one of my favorite sites this morning, Vibrant Nation, and I came across a post entitled “Me, own a gun”. It peaked my interest and I read on, then I went on to read the replies…

Of course I have an opinion. It was written as a reply, but it stands on it’s own. My take on gun ownership, the whys and why nots…

*******   

I am having my coffee. Finished a lovely breakfast of yogurt and buttered blueberry toast. Now I’m sitting here, listening to the meadowlarks call… thinking about guns. Thinking about the attitudes about guns. To have one or not to have one, that is the question. Actually it’s not the question at all. Here is the question. Why do you want one?

This is not a “should you or shouldn’t you” question. It’s why do you want one? Note; I haven’t said whether I have one or not. Is it a big secret? No, it’s not, but it’s also not the point. Not just yet.

Here is another question. If it came down to it. Could you, would you kill to defend yourself. I don’t need to know your answer; you do. Just know this; If you pull a gun on someone and are not prepared to use it, you are gambling in a high stakes game that you are going to lose. The stakes in this case, is your life.

If you are going to have/use a gun. Get to know your gun. Not … Oh here’s the barrel here’s the handle and let’s see the bullets go in here. How many shots does it hold? Learn how to use it. Yes, get to the target range and practice, practice, practice. Learn how to clean it, take it apart, put it back together. Feel the balance, what kind of kick does it have. Are the sites on target? How do I hold it? How do I stand so I’m stable if rushed?

Here is another question. Where to keep it so it’s out of sight, yet I have quick simple access? If your home protection gun is locked in a safe, hidden in a shoe box unloaded in the back of the closet, or some other obscure difficult to get to place. Do yourself a favor. Contact a reputable gun dealer and sell it. You are not prepared to use it.

I am not saying to be careless or cavalier with it; that would be disgustingly irresponsible. A gun is a tool, a piece of equipment. It doesn’t make you bigger. It doesn’t make you stronger. It doesn’t make you safer. It is only as useful as your skill set is.

If you have children in the house, teach them. It’s not a toy, it’s a tool. If you have a gun, you have the responsibility. There is no getting around that. Deny it if you will, you still have the responsibility. Don’t be the idiot; that set up a target against a couple of straw bales and killed his small child that was playing behind the bales. You’re right; I have no sympathy for people like that. It wasn’t an accident; it was careless and irresponsible.

Owning a gun is not going to stop you from living in fear. Living in fear is not a good reason to own a gun. If you are living in a dangerous situation, or a potentially dangerous situation; develop your skill set. Your most valuable tool is your mind, your attitude. Everything else is secondary. A gun is a minor tool in comparison.


********
In answer to some possible curiosities: Do I own a gun? Yes I do. Why? Because I live on a ranch and it is a useful tool. Do I own a gun because I am (or was) afraid? No, I own a gun to defend myself, my home and livestock from predators; be they rattle snake, coyote, cougar, rabid animal, or human. Am I mentally/physically capable of killing? Yes I am. Do I like killing? No I do not. I do not like killing any living creature. If I have to I will; but only as a last resort.

Best ask your self the above questions; put some thought into it and answer them honestly. I don’t need to know your answers. Only you need to know them; and you do need to know them…. Especially if you choose to own a gun.

Life is a journey, how you walk it is your choice.
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch
307.788.0202

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

VIJAYA SUTTA: VICTORY translated from the Pali byThanissaro Bhikkhu© 1997–2010

VIJAYA SUTTA: VICTORY
translated from the Pali byThanissaro Bhikkhu© 1997–2010


Whether walking, standing,
sitting, or lying down,
it flexes & stretches:
this is the body's movement.
Joined together with tendons & bones,
plastered over with muscle & skin,
hidden by complexion,
the body isn't seen
for what it is:
filled with intestines, filled with stomach,
with the lump of the liver,
bladder, lungs, heart,
kidneys, spleen,
mucus, sweat, saliva, fat,
blood, synovial fluid, bile, & oil.
On top of that,
in nine streams,
filth is always flowing from it:
from the eyes : eye secretions,
from the ears : ear secretions,
from the nose : mucus,
from the mouth : now vomit,
now phlegm,
now bile.
from the body : beads of sweat.
And on top of that,
its hollow head is filled with brains.

The fool, beset by ignorance,
thinks it beautiful.
But when it lies dead,
swollen, livid,
away in a charnel ground,
even relatives don't care for it.
Dogs feed on it,
jackals, wolves, & worms.
Crows & vultures feed on it,
along with any other animals there.


Having heard the Awakened One's words,
the discerning monk
comprehends, for he sees it
for what it is:"
As this is, so is that.
As that, so this.
"Within & without,
he should let desire for the body
fade away.
With desire & passion faded away,
the discerning monk arrives here:
at the deathless,
the calm,
the undying state
of Unbinding.


This two-footed, filthy, evil-smelling,
filled-with-various-carcasses,
oozing-out-here-&-there body:
Whoever would think,
on the basis of a body like this,
to exalt himself or disparage another:


What is that if not blindness?

**************

I was looking through my facebook account and I saw this post. Vision 2010 posted it.  I am very tired and it spoke to me.  Some will understand, some won't, and that is ok.
Life is a journey, at present I am a weary traveler.
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch
307.788.0202

Sunday, May 16, 2010

5 Things Every Happy Woman Does - Oprah.com

Illustration: R.O. Blechman Sages going back to Socrates have offered advice on how to be happy, but only now are scientists beginning to address this question with systematic, controlled research. Although many of the new studies reaffirm time-honored wisdom ("Do what you love," "To thine own self be true"), they also add a number of fresh twists and insights. We canvassed the leading experts on what happy people have in common—and why it's worth trying to become one of them.

1. They find their most golden self.
Picture happiness. What do you see? A peaceful soul sitting in a field of daisies appreciating the moment? That kind of passive, pleasure-oriented—hedonic—contentment is definitely a component of overall happiness. But researchers now believe that eudaimonic well-being may be more important. Cobbled from the Greek eu ("good") and daimon ("spirit" or "deity"), eudaimonia means striving toward excellence based on one's unique talents and potential—Aristotle considered it to be the noblest goal in life. In his time, the Greeks believed that each child was blessed at birth with a personal daimon embodying the highest possible expression of his or her nature. One way they envisioned the daimon was as a golden figurine that would be revealed by cracking away an outer layer of cheap pottery (the person's baser exterior). The effort to know and realize one's most golden self—"personal growth," in today's lingo—is now the central concept of eudaimonia, which has also come to include continually taking on new challenges and fulfilling one's sense of purpose in life.

"Eudaimonic well-being is much more robust and satisfying than hedonic happiness, and it engages different parts of the brain," says Richard J. Davidson, PhD, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "The positive emotion accompanying thoughts that are directed toward meaningful goals is one of the most enduring components of well-being." Eudaimonia is also good for the body. Women who scored high on psychological tests for it (they were purposefully engaged in life, pursued self-development) weighed less, slept better, and had fewer stress hormones and markers for heart disease than others—including those reporting hedonic happiness—according to a study led by Carol Ryff, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

2. They design their lives to bring in joy.
It may seem obvious, but "people don't devote enough time to thinking seriously about how they spend their life and how much of it they actually enjoy," says David Schkade, PhD, a psychologist and professor of management at the University of California San Diego. In a recent study, Schkade and colleagues asked more than 900 working women to write down everything they'd done the day before. Afterward, they reviewed their diaries and evaluated how they felt at each point. When the women saw how much time they spent on activities they didn't like, "some people had tears in their eyes," Schkade says. "They didn't realize their happiness was something they could design and have control over."

Analyzing one's life isn't necessarily easy and may require questioning long-held assumptions. A high-powered career might, in fact, turn out to be unfulfilling; a committed relationship once longed for could end up being irritating with all the compromising that comes with having a partner. Dreams can be hard to abandon, even when they've turned sour.


Fortunately, changes don't have to be big ones to tip the joy in your favor. Schkade says that if you transfer even an hour of your day from an activity you hate (commuting, scrubbing the bathroom) to one you like (reading, spending time with friends), you should see a significant improvement in your overall happiness. Taking action is key. Another recent study, at the University of Missouri, compared college students who made intentional changes (joining a club, upgrading their study habits) with others who passively experienced positive turns in their circumstances (receiving a scholarship, being relieved of a bad roommate). All the students were happier in the short term, but only the group who made deliberate changes stayed that way.

3.  They avoid "if only" fantasies.
If only I get a better job...find a man...lose the weight...life will be perfect. Happy people don't buy into this kind of thinking.

The latest research shows that we're surprisingly bad at predicting what will make us happy. People also tend to misjudge their contentment when zeroing in on a single aspect of their life—it's called the focusing illusion. In one study, single subjects were asked, "How happy are you with your life in general?" and "How many dates did you have last month?" When the dating question was asked first, their romantic life weighed more heavily into how they rated their overall happiness than when the questions were reversed.


The other argument against "if only" fantasies has to do with "hedonic adaptation"—the brain's natural dimming effect, which guarantees that a new house won't generate the same pleasure a year after its purchase and the thrill of having a boyfriend will ebb as you get used to being part of a couple. Happy people are wise to this, which is why they keep their lives full of novelty, even if it's just trying a new activity (diving, yoga) or putting a new spin on an old favorite (kundalini instead of vinyasa).

4.  They put best friends first.
It's no surprise that social engagement is one of the most important contributors to happiness. What's news is that the nature of the relationship counts. Compared with dashing around chatting with acquaintances, you get more joy from spending longer periods of time with a close friend, according to research by Meliksah Demir, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Northern Arizona University. And the best-friend benefit doesn't necessarily come from delving into heavy discussions. One of the most essential pleasures of close friendship, Demir found, is simple companionship, "just hanging out," as he says, hitting the mall or going to the movies together and eating popcorn in the dark.


5. They allow themselves to be happy.

As much as we all think we want it, many of us are convinced, deep down, that it's wrong to be happy (or too happy). Whether the belief comes from religion, culture, or the family you were raised in, it usually leaves you feeling guilty if you're having fun.

"Some people would say you shouldn't strive for personal happiness until you've taken care of everyone in the world who is starving or doesn't have adequate medical care," says Howard Cutler, MD, coauthor with the Dalai Lama of The Art of Happiness in a Troubled World. "The Dalai Lama believes you should pursue both simultaneously. For one thing, there is clear research showing that happy people tend to be more open to helping others. They also make better spouses and parents." And in one famous study, nuns whose autobiographies expressed positive emotions (such as gratitude and optimism) lived seven to 10-and-a-half years longer than other nuns. So, for any die-hard pessimist who still needs persuading, just think of how much more you can help the world if you allow a little happiness into your life.

Gabrielle Leblanc is a writer and neuroscientist in Washington, D.C.

 
************************   
 
 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Musings on a Rainy Day...

It’s a rainy foggy morning. When I first got up it was as if we were shrouded in a fuzzy gray wrap. It was not possible to see beyond the posts on the opposite side of the road. That was several hours ago. It is still raining, not flooding, just a slow gentle rain. The kind that makes the grasses in the pastures and the trees celebrate in an explosion of life. The Fog has cleared a bit, I can now see the shadowy outline of our nearest neighbor’s trees. They are about a half mile away.

I watched the storm come in late yesterday afternoon. I saw the rain on the ridges to the south of us. Dark gray clouds hugging the tops of the craggy hills. As I was watching the storm’s progress; the sun was shining here.

A slight wind picked up from the southeast. I knew the clouds were circling back to us when the wind graced us with it’s presence from the southeast. There was a dramatic shaft of rainbow wide and bright shooting up into the heavens over the far hills to the southeast. Brightly dramatic in it’s beauty. I thought of hurrying for my camera; and decided to savor the moment instead of trying to capture it. I’ve noticed over the years you can never really capture the moment; merely a shadow of the real thing no matter the beauty of the photograph.

So often when we try to hold too tight we lose the essence of the moment we have been blessed with. So this time I savored the essence so sweet it was in its fleeting existence.

The clouds continued their march and overtook the hills the rainbow had been shinning over. This has been a gentle storm. No threatening lightening, with it’s booming echoing thunder rolling through the shattered air as an angry dragon gone to war. No tornadoes twisting their angry way through the atmosphere capriciously touching down here and there as if it were a naughty child bent on having a tantrum on an epic scale.

No flash floods rushing down the hills; cutting through the soil leaving an open gash; and debris littered in their wake. This has been a gentle rain, a calm storm, wet to be sure, chilled over the baby animals-yes, but life renewing for the pastures exploding in growth. Grasses and wildflowers exploding in a dance of growth.

Life is a journey, each moment a precious gift to be savored.
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch: Living the Dream In Wild Wonderful Wyoming
307.788.0202

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Dragging my Butt

I am seriously dragging my butt today. On a bright note the wind is not howling. Actually there are quite a few bright notes... just have to focus on them instead of grubbing about.

I was up rather late last night, didn't get into bed until after 3:00 a.m. Woke up at 6:00 a.m. and went back to sleep. Three hours is a bit short on the the sleep for me. Unfortunately I slept until 9:30, which put me behind for the day. I had a 10.30 appointment for a manicure/pedicure, my mother's day treat for me, which there was simply no way I could make. I called them and canceled; no point in rescheduling unless I know for sure I can make it into town for the appointment.

I think I will just give myself a manicure, and see if I can talk my hubs into giving my peds a warm oil massage. I have some wonderful massage oil, that I think would be a treat for my feet.

I moved a refrigerator yesterday; I thought my muscles would be sore. Tee hee, they are not. This means my body is getting stronger and stronger. This puts a serious smile on my face. A couple of years ago, even one year ago I could not have done this without seriously hurting myself.

Its amazing how well our bodies can repair themselves when given the necessary exercise and nutrition. Can't forget mindset either. Our states of mind play a major factor in how well our bodies work. Amazing pieces of equipment these bodies we have; to be sure. Remarkably durable; self maintaining for the most part. Again when given adequate nutrition and exercise.

If we treated our cars or computers the way we treat our bodies we would have neither operating for any length of time.

Something to think about...

Oh yes I nearly forgot to mention it. If you can believe that. Kind of surprises me I used to be so ... hmmmm what's the word... compulsive ... about it. I lost another pound. That makes 5 down for the month of May. 296 - 5 = 291 The my calorie counter in  My Everyday Health:  is really helping me to get a handle on my nutrition. Putting a positive constructive spin on it; rather than the self destructive compulsive binging that had been going on.

Obviously it takes more than "My Calorie Counter" to get to the issues triggering the compulsive behavior. You have to do the work; dig through the mental and emotional muck and sort it out. Feels a bit like stomping through a city sewer drain barefoot at times. (Or in reference to the area I live in: a 100,000 cattle feedlot's drain pond)  It stinks, but it's gotta be dealt with. There is no getting around it. Want to be healthy; the "crap" has to be dealt with. I'm just saying.

Life is a journey, sometimes you step in it.
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch
307.788.0202

I missed my before breakfast workout, fixed my hubs something to eat when he came in from working all night; and shared a bite with him. Gotta grab those moments when you can. Anyway I am getting on my elliptical and getting my 7 kilometers of hills in for today. :)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The "window" of relationship - Vibrant Nation


It is a window through which you can pass (to become ever closer, to get married, to create a stronger friendship), or a window that you can pass by.
Posted using ShareThis

Posted on Tuesday, May 04, 2010 by LucyBHoffman

I have a friend who was once close. I think I could say that we still have a certain aspect of closeness, mostly based on past history, but the situation between has dramatically altered. There was a time in our lives when we were at similar posts on the road. Mile marker "selfish." That is a judgmental way of stating it, nevertheless true. It may have been because of the choices we made in our lives previously. But those are our choices. We spent a few years sharing our own selfish desires. Participating together. Providing cover. Somehow, I thought I was a very different friend for her. I thought I was someone whom she would never hurt nor betray. Those were parameters which I set up for myself. As long as I was willing to be part of the relationship on her terms, then we were close. Once I challenged that and refused to continue to offer support for things that I felt unsupportable, the relationship shifted. She was able to turn her back on me for a period of months. Since that time, although we have made momentary attempts to try to get back to where we once were, it has never worked. We have not regained the trust and the dependency we once had.

I believe it is because we both grew past the window. The "window" is my theory of relationships. It is a window through which you can pass (to become ever closer, to get married, to create a stronger friendship), or a window that you can pass by. Sometimes life makes the choice of which one you do. Sometimes you make the choice.

In this example, I'm not sure which one happened. But for whatever reason, passing by that window became the choice for me. I stopped wanting to try again with her. After the pain of being put aside, and ignored, I realized an important thing. In many ways, this friendship was a recreation of my relationship with my mother. An "I'm there in the bad times for you to talk to but not depend on" kind of relationship. A "you do all the work and all the planning and I may show up or I may cancel" type of friendship that does not represent friendship at all in my eyes. Others I'm sure would not find this necessarily an un-salvageable friendship, but we all carry different emotional baggage. If I didn't have this as a mother/daughter relationship, there is a good likelihood that it would not create the emotions of abandonment and loneliness which it has in the past.

I don't want to continue or work on relationships in which I feel abandoned. That is not where I will allow my efforts or feelings to go or to grow. I want to work on friendships in which something/much is returned. I have those in my life, and I have more and more happening. I think that is part of my own growth, that I have begun to choose better in regards to my own needs. When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Last night I received an email from this friend stating she would like to send me a letter. I know that it has become difficult for her to deal with my lack of interest. Her desire is that life remain the same, and three former friends find a way back to where they once were. That time is gone. Perhaps as old ladies we can once rock and chat and re-establish a connection that is now forced. That will remain to be determined. For now, I will accept the reaching out that rarely happens, and keep on letting it go. It makes me feel healthier.

*********
I was having my morning coffee and perusing my facebook account  when I came across the above post to Vibrant Nation.  It struck a chord with me as it is an issue that I have been dealing with in my own life.



Life is a journey, sometimes the faces of those we travel with change...
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch
307.788.0202

The "window" of relationship - Vibrant Nation

The "window" of relationship - Vibrant Nation

Posted using ShareThis

Friday, April 23, 2010

there’s spiders

Illusive black spiders on the ceiling...
there but not...

Emotionally exhausted...
mourning the death of an illusion...

Crying for a dream lost
The pain of never was and never will be

Shaken from the inside out
Feeling Oblivion’s call

Do you suppose there is peace there
None here… not today

Fear…abject terror
Panic attack

Chest tight… hurts
Hard to breathe


Spiders on my face
Spiders in my hair

Feel them running about
Tingling invisible touch

Heart hurts…
Struggling to beat

Oblivion calls
Drift away…

So tired…
Past exhaustion

Feel the pain…
You’re still here

******
written by.. Mary E. Robbins April 23, 2010 between 2 and 3 in the morning...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Psalms of Thanksgiving and Praise: Celebrate Life!

Say Thank You to God

Sunset over sea

There are times when awe and gratitude overwhelm us, whether we’re seeing a sunset, watching a child laugh or just appreciating a special moment. These are the moments when we just want to thank God for the good things in our lives, and praise God for the amazing world around us. The Book of Psalms is full of beautiful words that do just that.


Psalm 92: How Great Are Your Works

Sunrise over mountains

It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name, O Most High,
to proclaim your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.
For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
How great are your works, O Lord,
how profound your thoughts!

Psalm 92:1-5

Psalm 107: His Love Endures Forever

Night Sky

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1

Psalm 95: The Mountain Peaks Belong to Him

Sunrise over mountains

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.

Psalm 95:1-4

Psalm 103: Praise His Holy Name

Soaring eagle

Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:1-12

Psalm 117: Praise the Lord, All Nations

Earth

Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord.

Psalm 117:1-2

Psalm 100: We are the Sheep

Sheep in field

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his ;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100:1-5


Psalm 145: Make Music

Harp

Praise the Lord.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make music to our God on the harp.

Psalm 147:1 and 147:7

Psalm 98: Let the Mountains Sing

Mountains covered in snow

Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to the house of Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.
Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples with equity.

Psalm 98:1-8

Psalm 118: Give Thanks to the Lord

Cloudy sky

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Psalm 118:1

Psalm 145: God’s Wonderful Works

large canyon

I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation will commend your works to another;
they will tell of your mighty acts.
They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They will tell of the power of your awesome works,
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They will celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
All you have made will praise you, O Lord;
your saints will extol you.

Psalm 145:1-10

Psalm 111: He Provides Food

Bread loaves

Praise the Lord.
I will extol the Lord with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
Great are the works of the Lord;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.

Psalm 111:1-5

Psalm 105: Call on His Name

Beach

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
seek his face always.

Psalm 105:1-4

Psalm 104: He Make the Clouds His Chariot

Sun behind clouds

Praise the Lord, O my soul.
O Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.
He wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messengers,
flames of fire his servants.
He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.

Psalm 104:1-5

This wonderful presentation of Psalms was put together by Beliefnet.com . Here is a link to their actual presentation page.

I receive their Bible reading newsletter and it was one of the features. I hope it is a blessing to you as it was to me.

Life is a journey, Celebrate life.
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch
307.788.0202

'Daily Affirmation' Video