2016

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

Mindfulness

Quiet Your Mind. Learn to Observe. Practice Positivity. Choose to Respond, not React.

TEDx Evansville, Chocolate Mindfulness Exercise

A new visitor to my website has kindly pointed out that I had not posted the TEDx Talk I gave last October. Here it is -- Enjoy!

Presence is the Present

With all that's going on in the world, in our community, in our house, in our brain -- ya' know, the pace that we sometimes allow ourselves to get caught up in; or the stimulation we take on in response to a news story; or the drama that shows up in a family dynamic -- all of that can diminish our commitment to presence. To be present. To pay attention. To, with an open heart, observe what is right in front of us, without judgement. To be our authentic, best selves. Being present is a gift. The present of being present is a gift that is opened and reopened many, many times, and it is the gift that keeps on giving (corny but oh-so-true). When we are present and in the moment, paying attention to our current thought, circumstance, or emotion, we are open to acceptance, learning, and growing. From here, we are receptive to joy and gratitude. Distraction, on the other hand -- be it texting, daydreaming, or judging -- gets in the way of paying attention to the here and now. We've got this one moment to live, followed by the next unique moment, and the next moment, bringing us to a place of gorgeous presence. Let's make the most of it. The concept of presence has come up for me this week as I am visiting my family in Florida, staying at my sister's home with her family -- and they just happen to live just down the street from my parents. Sheesh, there's nothing like a family visit to divert presence -- old stuff comes up; being inserted into another family's routine can create an internal imbalance; and simply being out of my familiar surroundings throws me off the path of being present. Perhaps you experience this phenomenon also, when you are around family that you don't see very often. If not, wow! you're fortunate, and if so, phew! I'm glad to know I am not alone in this. The gift un-wrapping begins by opening the elaborately tied metaphoric bow to get to the personalized greeting card -- an invitation to drop into the state of presence. Slowly peeling off the outer layer,  you see a glimpse of what the box holds ... recognition that awareness and responsiveness have begun to slip and are in peril of being replaced by reactivity. Soon enough, the top of the box is removed to reveal the precious gift inside: acceptance, compassion, and understanding. You've just given yourself the present of presence.

Do Words Matter?

“What you Think, you become What you Feel, you attract What you Imagine, you create”. —Buddha

I came upon this quote several years ago and, using a fancy font, I printed it onto card stock, complete with a swirly backdrop, framed it, and gave it to my then teenage son, as a reminder of the power of words. He used strong words in a matter-of-fact manner—such as hate, bad, and stupid—that had a big impact in regards to the type of energy connected to those words. I had already chosen by that point in my life to let go of those less-than-positive words, and when I heard them from him, they sounded “jangly” to my ears—and to my heart.  The less often I used this genre of words, the more noticeable they became when used by others. This quote of truth, from Buddha, can be referenced to both spoken words and to the words that live in our head. The words we choose to use are habitual, which means that we can use them consciously and/or choose to not use them.  It takes intention and practice to allow uplifting words to dominate your vocabulary. Our choices in regards to what we Think, Feel, and Imagine, are reflected in what we manifest in our daily life. Furthermore, the words we use to capture our thoughts, our feelings, and what we imagine, set the tone for the manner with which we affect the world. Words that express optimism, receptivity, joy, gratitude, love, acceptance, and forgiveness create a very different reaction than words of righteousness, indignation, fear, regret, and blame. The reaction to which I am referring is our own internal reaction as well as that of those people who are within our sphere. There is even the sentiment that the energy emanating from the words we speak and think can affect the balance of all living beings. When your words express confidence, success will follow. Words of tolerance lead to harmony. Words of gratitude bring joy. And you can figure out the stark contrast of the responses to their antonyms: doubt, prejudice, and entitlement… Recently, at a meeting of Business & Professional Women of Nevada County, at which I was presiding as the President of the organization, I made a declaration about words.  Our meetings include an activity called “Good Dollar / Bad Dollar” – a fun way to share a slice of our personal lives, as well as to add a few dollars to our kitty money. It may have seemed trivial when, at that meeting, I purposefully modified the title to “Good Dollar / Interesting Dollar”. This is just one small example of how a word changes the way I perceive a situation. An “interesting” occurrence offers the opportunity for learning and growth, regardless of the outcome, and connotes a sense of observation.  A “bad” occurrence implies absoluteness of negativity, with an attached sense of judgment. Words are central to the Coaching for Optimal Health practice that I share with the world. For instance, when a client exclaims, “I have got to start exercising”, I will invite that client to shift those words to “I get to start exercising” – a subtle shift of words, with a huge impact on the way the brain responds to that exclamation. When we “have to” undertake an idea or activity, it is perceived as a burden, yet when we “get to” contemplate that very same idea or activity, it is perceived as an opportunity with endless possibilities.  The perception of a burden triggers the fight or flight response, which will minimize the likelihood of that desired outcome coming to fruition, whereas when we approach an idea or activity with optimism, all things are possible. Words do matter.

Spring Blooms in August

The Eastern Sierras are simply magnificent in August! I am so blessed to be in the Mammoth Lakes area and we are being treated to a high-altitude spring awakening. At 9000 feet, the wildflowers are prolific and varied -- their exquisite colors are found only in nature. Rich purple of the Monkshead, Lupine, and Larkspur; soft coral colored Indian Paintbrush and her sister, the bright red Paintbrush; Columbines of white, yellow, and pink; one of my personal favorites is the hot pink stalk of Elephanthead...I could go on and on about each gorgeous bloom, just as I could write hundreds of words about the pristine alpine lakes, crystal clear and inviting. Superlatives abound in my mind that describe the rushing streams, the expansive meadows carpeted with color, the haunting call of the Clark's Nutcracker, and the stark beauty of the granite spires reaching toward the cloudless blue sky. There is no doubt that being outdoors, immersed in nature, is connected to your optimal health and well-being. How? Let me share...
  • The breeze that ruffles your hair will push away worry and hectic-ness.
  • Any mood short of euphoric will improve vastly when in the presence of wildflowers .
  • Cruising around outdoors offers more exercise that if you hang around indoors. Either by foot or bike, you'll get your heart rate up.
  • The sound of water bubbling over rocks is a metaphor for tension being washed away from your physical and emotional state.
  • Standing atop a rock outcrop, looking down at a clear lake, brings clarity to your own perspective of the world.
Whether you can get to the mountains, the ocean, or a local park, allow the lovely experience of savoring time in nature to uplift, comfort, and nourish you.

Yellowstone Guided Imagery

From me to you, a gift of quieting relaxation, shared from my recent experiences in Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone guided imagery

In your busy life, I invite you to consider relaxation as medicine. Taking a few moments each day to quiet the mind and the body will beneficially alter brain chemistry as well as physical metabolism. In addition, the spiritual self is nourished...you will come away refreshed, pleasantly balanced, and ready for whatever else comes your way that day! May you find as much delightful quieting in the practice as I did in the creation.

I AM what is right with the world — and so are YOU

That might sound a bit grandiose, so let me explain... While on our Sunday morning bike ride, I was filled with a deep pleasure of being outdoors. The terrain changes, taking us by pastures with goats and horses, rolling hills with gardens and orchards; forests of mature oaks from which I can hear the woodpeckers calling; quail and wild turkey alongside the road; barking dogs and waving neighbors -- all of this being shared with my sweetie as we rode together. Along side the road, nearly at our turn-around spot, were 3 old tires in the ditch. On purpose. Those tires were not there on Friday, my last riding day, and were incongruous to the scenery and to the pleasure I was experiencing, so much so that I felt twanged. A thought came to me then: "What's wrong with those people"?, meaning of course, the person who left those tires there--then right on top of that--a jangly feeling, not-so-pleasant, and I recognized the vibe with which I was putting out that thought and energy. The Universe opened up just then and I immediately was able to let that negativity go and hold compassion and acceptance for the tire-leaver (TL). It was apparent to me that this person does not hold the same reverence and appreciation for nature and being outdoors, hence the lack of stewardship and responsibility; I held the TL in empathy for not having that connection to the planet, and put out an invitation to the TL to open his heart, to accept his place in the world in regards to sister & brother-hood, and to have the opportunity to be outdoors, somewhere quiet and lovely, to be in the right place at the right time, and then, then, the shift will occur. Ah, in the writing as well as in that moment, I felt grateful and relieved. The feelings I am referring to are In reference to the documentary, I AM, which my husband and I watched a few weeks ago. A very awakening film, reminding us of the opportunity to be our best selves and that what we put out into the world is what comes back into our lives. Corny? Maybe. What I can say though, is that this morning, when I consciously chose positivity, acceptance, and understanding, I felt so uplifted and that is undeniably so much better than choosing resentment or righteousness. Doesn’t that make sense?

90-Minutes of Kitchen Zen™

90-minutes of Kitchen Zen!™ You’ll enjoy these benefits • Engage in healthful commitment • Delight in creating and sustaining your own vibrant health. • Shop for and eat local foods when possible. • Support small farms using sustainable agricultural methods. • Know that you are contributing to the health of the planet. • Cultivate a time for mindfulness • Express gratitude, for giving yourself the time to prepare and enjoy good quality food • Experience the “zen” of cooking. • Experiment during one or two dinners per week... • Family time • Age-appropriate kitchen and food preparation jobs. • Quality time with children and sweetheart: share the workload! • Role model your commitment to the planet and your health. • Create the opportunity to discuss the environment and the impact of your decisions. • Create a comfort level in the kitchen for the next generation. • Explore the benefits of eating “real food” versus drive-through food. How To’sVeggies: 6 colors on your plate! • Cut ahead of time, store in glass, Tupperware or zip lock bag. • Use in salads, casseroles, stir-fry • Grilled peppers, eggplant, zucchini, onion, you-name-it: brush with (garlic infused) olive oil; place under broiler on low or onto grill for 10-ish minutes each side. These will keep in the fridge for a at least a week! • Roast garlic, peel, and store in fridge for added zip to any meal! • Wash greens and dry well. Tear into small pieces for salad mix. • make up salads ahead and store in fridge • add “wet” veggies at meal time to avoid a soggy salad • cukes, cut tomatoes, olives, onions… • Pre-cut veggies are available in the produce section of some grocery stores; they are more expensive, but very convenient! • Fruits • Cut ahead of time, squeeze a drop of fresh lemon juice on top, and seal well in glass or Tupperware. • Perfect for smoothies, salad with yogurt or cottage cheese, just as a snack, or in a cobbler. • Grains • 2 parts water to 1 part grain. • Bring to a boil, simmer for ½ hour. • brown rice, millet, couscous, barley, bulgur • Exceptions • polenta requires more water, longer cook time and constant stirring! • quinoa cooks in 12 minutes. • Cook up a pot of grains each week to be used in salads, casseroles, and soups. • Meat, tempeh, and eggs • Marinade ahead of time (2 – 3 days), then cook; or • Bake tempeh or chicken breast early in the week for a yummy addition to a dinner casserole, a lunch sandwich, or on top of a salad. • Hard-boil a half-dozen eggs for a salad topper or snack. • Beans • Soak overnight. • Rinse with fresh water. Add fresh water to pot and bring to a boil, simmer 1 – 6 hours, depending on the bean. • Cook up a pot of beans each week to be used in salads, casseroles, and soups. • NEWS FLASH! Beans are available in cans with low or no salt and organically cultivated. • Nuts • Roasted: no oil needed; put in a pan on medium heat, stirring often, until they pop—about 5 minutes. Store in fridge. • Not only are roasted nuts very high in nutritional value, but also add a lovely flavor to a salad or on top of a cooked casserole. Miscellaneous • Add raisins or any dried fruit for flavor and interesting texture, especially with sun-dried tomatoes. • Taking the time, once a week, to prepare the basics for healthy lunch and dinner is an investment in YOU that will provide more pay-back than you can imagine! Once you cultivate the habit of 90-minutes of Kitchen Zen, you will eat more healthfully while spending less time in the kitchen overall. Have fun with this!

“Robin brings dedication, focus, passion, and intellect to whatever endeavor she is pursuing. She does not just talk about good health, she practices it thoroughly every day of her life. When she talks to clients about healthy lifestyle choices, they are able to see the effects of healthy choices by observing the woman in front of them!”
Arthur S., Client

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