4.2018

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

Mindfulness

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

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’s

Veggies: 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!

Mallards in the Morning

Yes, 5:30 AM is a bit early to be out walking. And let me tell you this: the birds are singing so sweetly at that hour, the air is cool and fresh and damp, the pink in the sky is soft, and Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are cautiously paddling about in the water, sending ripples of contentment through the moon reflection. Ah, this is a delightful time to walk–in the quiet morning, before human noises encroach, I am able to engage in a mindfulness practice that invites all my senses to participate.

I smell the richness of spring: damp earth, sweetness of the wildflowers, strong sage aroma, wet grasses; I see the sunrise, the soft green of the tender oak leaves, the white of the dogwood flower, the deep purple of the lupine; I feel the cool morning air and the gentle breeze; I hear the birds and am able to differentiate a few special songs; and I taste, metaphorically speaking, the delicious flavors of the morning: gratitude, joy, and reverence.

The Mallards return every year–that they become eternal mates is endearing–to bring new life to the world. They are very timid, aware of their precarious situation in the forest, and do not let me or Grace get too close, which makes that that much more precious to me. I walk, I reflect, I feel my heart filling with calm peacefulness and my mind quietly savoring the details of this ordinary magnificence.

What has brought you joy and calm on this glorious morning?

What’s Bringing You Joy today?

Just me, my dog, and the sliver of the moon–oh, and about a thousand birds–on our morning walk. Out early, in anticipation of a long and full day, savoring the symphony of avian song, the changing light in the sky, the gentle and still-cool morning breeze of spring…ah, no matter what else comes up, my day has begun with joy and gratitude. What’s bringing you joy today?

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

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

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?

“It was with sincere gratitude that I had the opportunity to meet and work with Robin Mallery—it was perfect timing for me in my life. With Robin coaching me, I was able to cultivate new life skills that I implement daily. She is kind, attentive, informative and extremely intuitive. I recommend Robin highly. Thanks again Robin!”

–F.G., Grass Valley

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