Fermented foods

We are starting with fermented foods as part of the “No guts, no glory” series inspired by Pique Tea’s Gut Health cheat. If you haven’t downloaded the cheat sheet, I highly recommend it! (And tell you how to, here.)

Otherwise known as cultured foods, fermented foods are made with live bacteria, and are a true foundation for gut health. And good gut health is the foundation for the overall health of our minds and bodies.

Fermentation is a method of food storage that every ancient culture used in one form or another. The key to its life-giving benefits are the live cultures (or bacteria) that are used to preserve the food. Modern technology like refrigeration, and our growing addiction to convenience have taken us away from fermented foods, and our microbiomes have suffered as a result. I believe (as do many others) that unhealthy microbiomes have resulted in so many of the chronic mental and physical health conditions we face in our modern society. So let’s get back to basics.

Two awesome metro Atlanta companies that sell a whole lot of different types of fermented foods and drinks are Ancient Awakenings in Woodstock and Cultured Traditions in Suwanee. And Carlton Farms, my very favorite, will actually deliver these products to your door, as well as literally every other food on the Gut Health Cheat Sheet that you should eat. If you prefer just to shop at the big box store, never fear, there are plenty of non-local fermented foods, like Bubbies pickles. Look in the refrigerated section, you won’t find these pickles in the middle of the store. You may also look for kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, and more.

Try one serving of fermented foods per day, for a week, and see how it makes you feel!

No guts, no glory

I recently reviewed the “Gut Health Cheat Sheet” I downloaded from Pique Tea. Somehow, the time was right for me to digest it, and I am struck by how simply this guide takes us through basically everything we need to know from a dietary perspective to improve the health of our bodies and minds.

I was inspired by this to do a series of posts on the elements of this simple but profound plan. It really summarizes everything I’ve learned (and that has “stuck” with me as truth), over the years.

Since I did not ask permission to re-publish the sheet, I encourage you to visit the Pique’s blog, The Flow, to get it. Follow the link, and once you are there, a pop-up should appear, asking you for your email. If you enter your email you can download the guide to keep. I love concise, pretty information. This fits the bill.

The first step is to use tea to improve your gut health. I’ll let Pique tell you all about that.

Then they get into the foods you should focus on. We’ll take these one by one in upcoming posts. Fermented foods is first. Pique even doubles up on fermented foods in the guide, so we know they are important! Tune in tomorrow for the skinny on fermented foods.

I should have been more present

We may think this after a meditation, a meeting, when our kids pass milestones, or when a loved one dies. When we are in the autumn of our own lives. Endings remind us of the sacredness of what came before. Maybe we should have been more present, but regret takes us out of the present moment too.

If we are aware enough, we realize we are never aware enough. Wiser to forgive ourselves for this basic human condition, and reflect on what has passed with gratefulness.

On purpose

Some of us get caught up with our life’s Purpose. How quickly or well we are achieving it, or whether we have one at all. When the P feels capitalized, we judge. How far we’ve climbed the mountain, or whether we have even found the mountain we were meant to climb.

Some say our purpose is all the same: To allow God to see the world through us, to experience being in physical form, in 8 billion individual ways. This is the “Power of Now” perspective. I believe in it, as the beginning, but not as the end.

Mindfulness is crucial, and is a catalyst for what inevitably comes next.

When we are tuned into the moment, micro-purposes confront us in abundance. When we are gratefully tuned in, they feel like opportunities rather than obligations. We begin to take joyful stands, without feeling pressed to bite off more than we can chew. We may care more for the Earth, love better, practice compassion, or claim more freedom.

When we fulfill these micro-purposes, we contribute to the energy of the collective.

It’s not about God simply getting the pleasure of seeing the world through our eyes. It’s about giving God the space to gently lead us toward better versions of ourselves, however gradually. As we move in this direction, collectively, then we allow His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Austin Fletcher’s latest New Age Christianity podcast episode is the Purpose Driven Lie. Check it out. I am grateful for his study of the Bible and the conclusions he has drawn (see the earliest episodes of his podcast). I hope his ideas spread.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. ~Ghandi

Garden 2019: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

It’s almost harvest season and I wanted to include my takeaways from my first year of a real veggie garden since I have lived in this house. I had delayed planting one for the past couple of years because I wanted raised beds. This year I decided not to pressure my hubby into making them anymore, and look for what was readily available. I came upon these Big Bag Beds, and decided to give them a try.

Love them! We got a big yellow bag of compost from Super Sod, and it took about half a huge bag to fill the two beds up. By the time this all occurred, it was mid-May. This was a totally experimental year, and here are my findings.

The Good

Okra. What a beautiful plant!! Next year I will know that if you let the okra get too big, they will become tough and woody. Best to harvest when they are just a few inches long.

Herbs – most of my gardening experience has been with herbs, with an occasional pepper and tomato plant. This year I was heavy on the herbs: parsley, oregano, chives, thyme and lavendar. They are so neat and contained. Next year I will give them their own bed because I think they get offended by their sprawling veggie cousins. One herb that will not be welcomed back is the Thai basil. It is big and I like regular basil better.

Speaking of sprawling, the cucumber plant I will not do again. What a mess! My garden consists of two round beds, and really doesn’t have the room for cucumbers to creep. Besides, I don’t eat them that much and no one around me likes them.

I will do a few peppers next year, but not as many as I did this year, and I will be careful to get the bell peppers rather than the hot.

Tomato will be outside of the beds in a pot. Yes they are anti Plant Paradox, but a good homegrown tomato is the absolute best. Need to find a variety that will stay contained within my tomato stakes though.

Eggplant – these were my first pick this year and I was so proud of my little purple delights. I did like the plant, but like with cucumbers, I just don’t eat them that much. And Plant Paradox is in my mind. Next year I am going to try to adhere to PP a little more when planning my garden. This year I was late in planting, since it took me a while to get the beds and the soil. I’ll be ready at proper planting time next year, and will be more intentional with my choices. I may do more seeds as well.

We are going to just keep playing with which vegetables to plant so that the garden is neat and beautiful within the small space, and so that I’m able to take care of it.

I value the garden because it invites mindfulness, it is beautiful, and growing and eating variety of herbs and vegetables is good for the gut and good for the soul.

Somehow I feel like the more experience I get in gardening, the more I will come into my own as a wise person, and as someone who is able to sustain herself from home.

Gates of speech

Four questions:

  1. Is it necessary?
  2. Is it true?
  3. Is it kind?
  4. Is it appropriate for the time?

I have heard various versions of these questions, some attributed to Buddha, some to a Sufi, others to more modern thinkers.

You can search Three Gates or Four Gates of speech – the idea is to let our thoughts pass through four “gates” before they come out of our mouth, so that what we say does no harm. So it “improves upon the silence.”

There is a THINK before you speak acronym. True. Helpful. Inspiring. Necessary. Kind. They sell posters for classrooms with this sentiment. An excellent concept to introduce to children.

Another perspective: Know the rules, and know when to break them. Sometimes, it is more beneficial to tell a white lie to maintain peace and harmony. Sometimes, it is not “necessary” to sing a song or quote a poem, but it adds to the beauty of the moment. Sometimes, although you have a loving heart, the thing you are saying may not be perceived as kind, but it is perhaps necessary.

Either way, space between thoughts and words is required. Meditation has certainly helped me with that subtle instinct to examine my thoughts before I say them out loud. Far from perfect I am, but the pursuit is at least a start.

I like the four I listed above best, because I cannot think of an instance when the fourth gate, “Is it appropriate for the time?” should be broken. Can you?

Wellness, Wealth, Wisdom

It is my intention to post more. I take so much information, and I often feel I am missing my purpose by not sharing what I am learning. I don’t have a lot of time, so many of my posts may be a quick observation and then a link for more. My interests revolve around living well, or the three Ws: Wellness, Wealth, and Wisdom.

My hope is to help others in their journey toward all three.

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Benjamin Franklin, or someone before him

Rest on the letter S

Pondering on four underused “S” words.

S for Sabbath.

S is for Savasana.

Sabbath is the one day a week to suspend your work in the world, to allow for rest and worship. Savasana (or shavasana) is a resting pose done at the end of a yoga practice, to allow for mental calmness and eliminate fatigue from other poses.

Neither are typically presented as an option. Sabbath is one of the 10 Commandments (but so often overlooked!). Savasana is the one pose common to all yoga practices I have experienced.

S is for silence.

S is for stillness.

I believe all of us are connected to the same God, and that it is OK for us to have different interpretations of that connection. But silence and stillness, in any faith or spiritual practice, are central to the quality of that connection.

How dedicated are we to true rest? How often are we still? How often are we silent?

Communication Shows You Care

“We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.” –Diogenes

Every measure of success in life stems from having successful relationships.

How is your marriage?  How are your kids turning out? How successful are you in your career? Do you have close friendships and strong bonds with your parents, siblings, extended family? How well do you feel you know yourself? How much have you grown in consciousness? How connected do you feel with your creator?

For all of us, the answer to any of the above is linked to the amount and quality of our communication in that arena. Smarts, looks, creativity, wealth – none of those can take us all the way, because none of them are about how we interact with others.

Communication nourishes deep, rich, lasting personal and professional relationships. In my life, I have felt the most self-understanding and growth when I have had a regular writing practice, another form of communication. I also write to God sometimes, and like Aibileen in “The Help” it seems to be like putting the universe on speed dial. In my mind, prayer is talking and meditation is listening. As with most relationships, better to do more listening than talking.

Of course, appropriate communication is best. With babies, the Waldorf camp says to speak in rhyme and song, as they are nurtured by the sound and rhythm, not the words themselves. Warmth and truth are key components to communicating with anyone, God included. While a little sugar coating can go a long way, being false gets us nowhere.

I do not fully agree with the cliche: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” Why? Because I believe it is always best to err on the side of communication.

If you are running behind on something at work or there is a glitch in a plan, write a note to the affected party, or better yet give them a call. This breeds trust, and it shows you care.

If you have a beef with your partner, TALK about it. Even if they do not like hashing things out, as long as your intent is to maintain harmony, they will appreciate it in the long run. It shows you care.

Ask questions. Of your colleagues, your kids, your mate, your friends, strangers, God. Listen to what they have to say. This helps you learn and grow, and it shows you care.

Write. Talk about your feelings with yourself. Keep a journal, or try a technique like Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones.” Your consciousness will grow like a weed.

We all go through bumps in the road. Daily. For me, whatever area of life seems to be bumpiest has to do with how much, how clearly, and how warmly I have expressed myself and how present I have been in the listening.

Why Blog?

“What you do is of little significance, but it is very important that you do it.”

Mahatma Gandhi

“Blog” – the word – has never pleased my ears. It seems not only to sound like, but to represent, something gross and uncouth. The hubris of these hoards of people spouting off their thoughts for all the world to hear, and who is listening?

Well, if I stick with this “web log,” it will become evident that my mind is on the changeable side. On the subject of blogging, Seth Godin led me to change it.

I just discovered Seth Godin listening to one of my recent steadies – “On Being” with Krista Tippett. I prefer her unedited cuts on podcast. After researching Godin it seems I could be embarrassed to admit that I just found him. However Godin himself said in the interview that people in public rarely recognize him, happily illustrating one of his critical contributions: “Mainstream” is becoming an archaic term. We have so many choices on how to connect that we are bound to miss plenty of “big” stuff, so embrace the diversity and contribute to it if you dare.

An aside: Thank God we do not depend on the major media outlets to provide all our information anymore.

I haven’t since read all of Godin’s books, but did listen to the audio of “Poke the Box.” He says to be an initiator. Start something. Do something that makes you uncomfortable. Something that matters.

Here I am. It makes me uncomfortable sharing my private thoughts in public, whether in person or online. But my private thoughts concern universal matters that plenty of people see fit to write about. Mind, Body, and Spirit issues. Natural health. Tea. Yoga. Nature. Faith. Food. Technology. History. Freedom. Time. Money. Marketing. Parenting. Education. Creativity. Service.

I process so much information related to these matters, that perhaps I just want to have a place to catalouge my reactions to what I take in, to track the ever-evolving focus of my passions.

But it’s more than that. I live in the Bible Belt, sell for a Fortune 50 corporation, and generally fit in with the “mainstream.” Therefore I have fewer people with whom to talk about the deep stuff than I would like. So at Godin’s behest – I am not only seeking expression, but connection.

I now realize, it matters not if I reach a mass audience. It is inevitable that plenty will disagree. It is not about being “followed.” It is about contributing. If one person comes across one thing I say that helps them grow in consciousness, then I have served. If I connect with one person or idea based on this blog that helps me grow in consciousness, then good for me.