4.2018

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

Birds, Birding, and Mindfulness

The Varied Thrush. Now I know. For the past couple of weeks however, I didn’t know, I couldn’t identify the bird responsible for making the “whistle” sound I was hearing while walking through the forest. I searched online for “birds that make whistling sounds” and “what bird sounds like a referee’s whistle”., to no avail. I stood still in the forest, waiting, listening, looking; I would hear the whistle and could not, no matter how much I peered into the foliage, find that bird.

Then we were walloped with winter storms. Two major snow dumps with lots of rain in between. Power outage. Trees down. Big trees down. Using saved bath water to flush. Heat from the wood stove. Roughing it — 21st century style.

My twice-daily dog walks took on a different tone; dressed in gortex armor (me, not her), out we’d go into the deluge of rain or the dumping of snow. The only sounds I heard for days was that of big winds in the treetops, giant clumps of snow hitting the ground, and my labored breath as I tromped through 12+ inches of heavy, wet snow.

Until today. We woke to a brightness in the sky — not sunshine, but the promise of it. No precipitation. As soon as I stepped outside, I heard the birds — all of them, singing their celebration of the non-precipitation-ary state — Chickadee, Robin, Stellar Jay, Towhee, Mourning Dove, White and Red Breasted Nuthatch, and from deep in the forest, the coveted song of the Piliated Woodpecker. Then: the whistle. And again. I took a few tentative steps on the path and there, perched on a broken oak branch, was a magnificent bird making a referee whistle sound. I saw it clearly, remembered the dominant characteristics, and looked it up as soon as I got back from the walk. When I clicked on the “listen to the call” button on the WhatBird.com website, I was so pleased to have matched the sound with the bird!

In my round-about way of telling a story, the point here is to share with you that birding is a truly mindful practice. Standing still, watching, observing small movements, following sounds, watching, waiting some more…it is an invitation to be in the moment. To be mindful.

What will you be listening to today?

Have a listen to the Varied Thrush: whatbird.com

HeartMatters and What Women Over 40 Want to Know…

I enjoyed a blog radio interview with Wendy Hanlan, the founder of What Women Over 40 Want to Know, as we discussed physical and emotional heart health. Have a listen…

Mindful Chocolate Exercise

Some fun with chocolate and mindfulness. A seriously fabulous combination.

Compassion…Good for Your Health, Good for the Planet

The word compassion has a Latin origin meaning “to suffer with”. Several dictionaries offer variations of the definition of compassion as “the act of feeling pity for the suffering of others”. I was surprised to read that the word suffering is attached so commonly to compassion—from my perspective, compassion is reaching out to others in a caring, kind, and generous manner. Compassion is a way of being that brings balance to the world and joy to those giving and receiving the sentiment.

Compassion opens the way for acceptance, tolerance, and forgiveness; I suppose from that perspective, there is an element of “feeling pity for one’s suffering”, even if that “suffering” is experienced personally. Nonetheless, cultivating compassion as a readily available emotion is a practiced skill — the more often compassion is evoked, the more familiar that emotion becomes and the more readily it is accessible to you as a response. When we are able to share a compassionate response with ourselves and others, we spread joy and bring balance. Personal health benefits are noted as well: decreased inflammatory markers, quieter brain activity, lowered pressure in the blood vessels, and an enhanced immune system. That makes sense, doesn’t it?  Responding with kindness, caring, and generosity is healing and soothing emotionally and physically.

These two websites offer more information about the practice and benefits of compassion:

Compassion Rx

Self Compassion

A Seasonal Spring Cooking Class

I’ll be co-teaching another of the seasonal cooking class series, with Wendy Van Wagner of In the Kitchen. Join us to have some fun around the chopping block table–to cook, eat, and learn about real food. You’ll go home with a big smile, satiated belly, and all kinds of delicious and easy-to-make recipes. See you there!

Gratitude Is the Attitude!

Expressing gratitude has benefits to you, personally, as well as to all of us, globally. When we live from the heart, grateful for the small blessings that each day brings, the whole world becomes a better place.

Gratitude is a practice. And, like other habits, the more often it is invited in, the more familiar it becomes, so that the gift of gratitude can be evoked more readily. Begin by reminding yourself, every day, to look around your personal world and name three reasons for your own gratitude at that very moment. After a few weeks of this daily practice, that attitude of gratitude will permeate the way you look at all the events in your life.

You will come to see that even challenging times have lessons for which you can feel grateful. That while you impatiently wait on line at the grocery store, the child in the cart before yours turns to you with a blissful smile that melts your heart — a reason to be grateful. That when you run from your office to your car in the rain and just happen to glance up at the sky, a rainbow has just popped — a reason for gratitude. That when you can’t find a book you’ve been wanting to read and search high and low in your house, you come upon some old photos of your child as a baby and spend an emotional hour savoring those precious moments — a real opportunity for gratitude…

Gratitude brings joy, acceptance, forgiveness, and tolerance. Can’t the world use a bit of that right about now?

A Sunday Run in the Rain

What to do on a rainy Sunday morning…a bike ride wasn’t an option (we no longer ride fat-tired bikes!), snowshoeing–which had been a heavy favorite–fell out of favor when we learned that the snow level had risen to 6500 feet, and the indoor option just didn’t jazz us (elliptical and air-dyne bike–effective but oh-so-mundane)…we have not been running lately because of the recent snowfall, so when my sweetie suggested that we take Grace for a run on the ditch, I immediately responded with a hearty YES!

What a blast! We ran through snow, splashed in puddles, laughed with Grace as she bounded joyfully after a stick, leapt over fallen branches, smelled the delicious wood smoke wafting from chimneys, and appreciated the strength in our legs–even after two weeks without running–so much so, that we went for a second lap of our standard loop! About an hour later, we returned home with exuberant energy, wet feet, and big smiles.

What marvelous activities do you have planned for this rainy Sunday?

"The Holiday Survival Cooking and Eating Class exceeded my expectations. It was so enjoyable to learn new ideas for healthy snacks and meals, taste the delicious treats we created and leave with an inspired hope that this will be my healthiest holiday season yet! I am impressed with the knowledge and care that Robin (and Wendy from In the Kitchen) both possess and I look forward to taking more classes in the future. Thanks again!"  --Rose M.   “What a wonderful, yummy class! Not only did we participate in creating several easy-to-make, delicious, nourishing dishes for the holidays and every day, we also learned strategies for surviving and enjoying the upcoming holiday season. Both Robin & Wendy were delightful and imparted their cooking and eating knowledge with love, humor, and enthusiasm. I highly recommend their classes to anyone who is interested in developing a better way to look at food, using thoughtfulness with mindfulness to learn some very valuable strategies for eating any time of the year!” --CAM   “I found the class delightful with great ideas for the holidays. In the Kitchen is a warm and welcoming place and you and Wendy were great teaching collaborators. Good new recipes. I appreciate your healthy eating information. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to enjoy the holidays without stressing over food. Actually, the information isn’t just for the holidays. I want to stay healthy all year and eat well.” --Pat B.   "I’ve participated in several classes at In the Kitchen, enjoyed them all immensely, but it is always a special treat when Wendy teaches a class. The recipes offered in The Holiday Survival class were easy to make and so delicious. And what a plus to have Robin co-teach the The Holiday Survival class with Wendy. Thank you, Robin, for all your great information on healthy eating, which was delivered so professionally, dovetailing beautifully into Wendy’s presentation. Hope you two team up again for more classes of scrumptious, healthy recipes. What a fun evening!!" --Carol B. _______________ I love this positive feedback! How gratifying it is to touch the lives of others in a meaningful way…and to be able to do so around a topic that is so dear to me, is just the icing on the cake (right—pun intended!). Wendy Van Wagner and I will continue to offer seasonal cooking classes in addition to the occasional specialty class…stay tuned!
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