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Suzanne’s Blog

Monday
Jan022017

A Daily Gratitude Practice for 2017: Why? Because It Works.

I know for sure that the habits we cultivate over over the course of our lives make a difference.  

For instance, the simple habit of cultivating the quality of gratitude has been proven to give us: improved sleep, increased resilience for when things get tough, increased self-esteem, psychological buoyancy, and gratitude can help us stay more balanced and poised through all the changes and phases in our lives. 

Try this Three Step”Gratitude Practice” from Joanna Macy, an environmental activist and Buddhist scholar:


1) Notice:
Scan your recent memories and identify something in the last 24 hours that you are pleased about. It can be something very simple, something that makes you think, “I’m glad that happened.”
 
2) Savor:
Close your eyes and imagine that you are experiencing that moment again.  Notice any colors sounds, sensations, smells, tastes, colors, and notice how you feel.

3) Give Thanks
Who or what helped this moment to happen?  Was anyone (or anything) else involved?  If so, think of them and imagine expressing your thanks.

This simple practice helps us train our minds to notice the upside of life more easily and quickly, and, over time, this can have a profound impact on our health and happiness. 


Friday
Dec302016

New Year's Thanks and Gratitude!

 

Dear Friends,
It is my greatest honor to be on this path with you.
Life is full of challenges, I realize for many of us this feels like the understatement of the year,
and yet, here we are at the beginning of a new cycle.
I’d like to extend gratitude to all of you for your growth this year; small shifts, or
epic movements forward.
They may have been carried out awkwardly, falling face first, or
with surprising ease and grace. 
Gratitude for all the connections we made to others this year.
Gratitude for all your generous efforts in bringing your gifts to the world this past year.
Thank you so much. 
Please know that all of our actions make a difference. 
Even one step toward peace and calm affects the world in a
quiet and yet powerful way. 
As we shift into the New Year, let’s celebrate, and continue to practice;
expanding our love and compassion and our ability
to care for each other, to create the most
sane, enlightened 2017 possible.
 
 
   

 
 

 

 

Monday
Nov142016

Radical Post-Election Self-Care for the Heart, Mind and Body

Some of us may still be in a dark place after the election. I know I have found it difficult to regain my footing, and take in the shift in the matrix.

Here’s a 3 Step Sequence I’ve been practicing from Martha Beck ” to meet despair, depression, agony, overwhelming anger, fear and anxiety. 

1) Allow yourself to feel whatever is present. Do you feel like the breath has been kicked out of you? Just really scared, horrified, or angry; it makes perfect sense. (Don’t try to turn your frown upside down.)

2) Focus your attention on Love and Compassion for the part of you that is feeling badly. You might use this Buddhist prayer:

“May you be happy, may you be well, may you be free from suffering.”  

This is NOT the same as shutting down your feelings. 

You might set your awareness on an image like Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, or on a place of worship where you felt deep peace and support. 

Love the one who is in agony. Do this as often as possible throughout your day, even draw or paint the image.  This begins to reset neural bathways in your brain.

3) Be kind to your body. Stop with all the words. Eat some delicious soup, grab a warm blanket, go back to bed, take a walk. What kindness can you give your body today?

Repeat these steps as needed.

Monday
Oct102016

What's the Best Exercise? The Kind You'll Actually Do.

I find it’s a pleasure to take long walks at the end of the day in the fall, breathing the crisp, cool air, and letting go of the day as I stroll along the lake near my house.  

It’s a great time to pause, take in the changes in the foliage, and appreciate all the beauty around me.

These days, that’s the exercise I LOVE, and because of that, I’m more likely to fit it into my busy day.  

It doesn’t matter how beneficial an exercise is, if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it over the long haul. 

We all “know” how important regular exercise is for our minds and body, but here are some reminders about how exercise benefits us from the CDC:  

  • Control Your Weight.
  • Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.
  • Reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.
  • Reduce Your Risk of Some Cancers.
  • Strengthen Your Bones and Muscles.
  • Improve Your Mental Health and Mood.
  • Increase your chances of living longer

Most often, we have an “execution” problem with exercise: work, family, REALLY important things get in the way.  For many of us, fitting in any exercise feels like too big of a stretch.  The CDC say 80% of Americans don’t get the reccommended amount of physical exercise. 

What’s the best exercise for you?  Studies show it’s the one you’ll actually DO.  That means something you enjoy enough to fit into your day. 

Today start SMALL; you don’t need an hour, or even 30 minutes, to get the benefits of regular exercise: a 5 or 10 minute walk, or a simple strech break at your desk will do.  Make it as enjoyable as possible, breathe deeply, and take your time.  Small amounts of exercise, like this, done regularly, can begin to create big shifts over your lifetime.

Friday
Oct072016

Seasonal Baking: Quinoa Apple Cake


This cake, from Homemade Winter by Yvette Van Boven, is a fall and winter favorite at our house, and makes a great, fast, hearty breakfast.  It’s substantial, the whole grain support of quinoa on a cold morning feels good.  It never lasts too long around our house.    

Quinoa is known as a “modern superfood” and is high in protein, as well as being a complex carbohydrate with low glycemic index

Remember to soak quinoa overnight, or for a few hours before cooking.  

Preheat the Oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

Boil 1 Cup (175g) Quinoa in water for 10 min. until tender and drain throughly.

Mix Quinoa with:

1 cup self rising flour

2 apples in chunks

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup (125g) raisins

7 tablespoons (100g) melted butter

1 tsp. EACH of cinnamon, ground ginger, freshly grated nutmeg, and a pinch of salt

Pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan (you can line the bottom with parchment paper—Yvette does.)

Bake for about 50 min. and check—if it seems too gooey when inserting a knife, bake longer.  I usually end up having this in for 75min.

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