Ratatouille

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Image by Sergei Belozerov from Pixabay

Whether it be a delicious French country dish made from harvesting late summer vegetables, or the animated film centered around a rodent gourmand who dazzles a restaurant critic with the same dish, ratatouille involves nourishing our soul.

In the Chinese calendar, we are on the verge of the Year of the Metal Rat. These zodiac Rats are know for their industrious nature, and the ability to gather sustenance and prosperity and tuck it away much like the harvesting of late summer vegetables.

I am a Metal Rat and fit that profile quite well. Coincidentally, I am petite and small-boned and quite adept at hiding in corners. You will often find me there, worrying and working myself to the bone, typical behavior of the first sign in the Chinese Zodiac. Although it might not be listed in this lucky sign’s traits, I do love me some metal music.

If you are a fellow Metal Rat, it is our year to shine. Metal is a conductive energy, so whatever we touch will have powerful energy behind it. Be careful and vigilant where you focus your thoughts and tasks, you don’t want to waste that power down the wrong path or in too much worry. I consider it quite auspicious that I am about to retire and making plans to building the next chapter in my life’s story. My efforts have been in the left-brained, logical world for many a year, so I am gearing up to give my right-brain, creative side some release. #Create!!

Even if you are not a fellow – ahem – rodent, it is a potent year for shoring up your resources. Invest wisely, beautify your nest and fill your coffers with that which sustains your life. The little rat is a workaholic worrier, always afraid there is never enough financial abundance, yet loves practical luxury. That little nest will always be stylish and those little feet shod in beautifully made shoes. The task at hand for the rat, is that in order to avoid excessive worry about money is to not overspend. Go green, recycle, upcycle, my little friends, and don’t overlook secondhand and consignment shopping. I have just discovered this market, and have scored some lovely luxury items at minimal cost. Minnie Mouse understands that you can look fabulous and be frugal at the same time.

Don’t neglect the inside, while covering up the outside. An overload of chemicals will keep you feeling off, bloated, itchy and overweight. Chemicals are everywhere and in most everything, and our bodies have difficulty in eliminating them. Think of your intestines and skin as a filtering system, and drink pure filtered water every day. Eat organic, non-GMO food. Rats have thin skin and are susceptible to the “itchies” and you don’t want to look like that. This is going to be a big year and you want to keep your body in as good a condition as possible so you have the energy to give it your best. Not that you shouldn’t do that any other year.

Remember to be a little social too, my fellow Rats, all work and no play is unhealthy. Our workaholic tendencies cause us to put all our duties before play, and usually there isn’t enough time nor energy left for play. Yes, I know you want to put the laundry away before going to the party, but no one has ever died from not having folded towels. A much refreshed you is a much happier you.

Come out of the corners, little Rats, dream big and put those plans into action. Be sure to join those celebratory parties when you meet a milestone. #wineandcheese

PS. I’ve also been told that rats make good pets.

Re-Evolving

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Image by Mira Cosic from Pixabay

Is it just me, or does it feel like Mercury Retrograde? I know it isn’t supposed to start until February 17th, but OMG, things feel crazy.

I have been reading some of the astrology reports and today begins a “collaboration”, if you will, of Pluto and Saturn. Pluto likes to destroy everything in its path, and Saturn loves to build structures. Maybe that’s why it seems like the work of my busy, little planet. I can’t claim to understand all of what this big meet-up means, but it seems pretty simple. Take a bulldozer to everything and rebuild. Not that I am recommending that to anyone.

It seems fitting that this is happening in January, when everyone is hell bent on setting resolutions and reinventing their life in some way. Most resolutions fail within about six weeks, or so I am guessing, so maybe this planetary collusion will help some of those big plans actually stick. Did you make resolutions this year? I didn’t and rarely ever do. You gotta turn something into a habit or way of life instead of just some grand plan.

Do you feel like you are stuck in some dull routine, just because, but it doesn’t really serve you? Perhaps Pluto will help, or maybe force, you into ditching it for something better. For example: do you go to your in-law’s every Sunday for spaghetti dinner even though it gives you heartburn for three days? Maybe you like your in-law’s, so why not suggest they come to your house for pot roast instead? Or maybe you don’t like them, and it’s time to have a chat with your spouse about doing something different for Sunday dinner. Who knows, your spouse might so full of relief at your suggestion that’ll they will make dinner. Winner-winner, chicken dinner!

Whatever the circumstance, it is important to acknowledge that there is some crazy energy going on and to do what you must to stop the panic. Don’t rush out to buy a new refrigerator just because it had a brain fart and displayed an error code. (Like ours did this morning. We have it on notice, but a backup plan with a spare fridge in the garage.) Don’t get a divorce because you hate in-law spaghetti dinners. Don’t quit your job because your boss went all stupid over a report. Breathe, be vigilant if necessary, but let the Universe guide you on the path for your Highest Good.

That is what this Pluto-Saturn thing is all about. The re-emergence of the real you. The ever, evolving journey of your life. The support and resources to make powerful, enduring changes. The Universe has your back and wants you to be happy and evolving into your best you.

A New Decade Rolls In

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Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay

Happy 2020 to all! I’m back online, mostly, as I’m still in recovery mode for my wrist. Who knew such a little lump would be such a big deal. I’m back to work tomorrow so we’ll see how that goes.

Not just a new year has begun, but a whole new decade. The time is ripe for a new, or just revised, vision of your life. Resolutions are usually a wasted effort and often abandoned within three weeks. I’m talking about a vision. How do you see yourself? What do you want your life to look like? Have you practiced that?

In February, I am retiring after 18-plus years of government service. It’s been a good run for me. I helped start up a new county and made it a worthwhile career. I set my intention to serve and I feel as though I lived up to that goal. But now it’s time to serve me.

I’ve been in the prep mode of this event for a couple of years. I’ve begun new hobbies, written a-yet-to-be-published book, researched places to visit and practiced activities and interests. The three weeks I have been away from work due to my surgery have been very useful in teaching me what matters. I expect retirement to still have its surprises, but I am ready. I have my vision of what my life will look life. I look forward to this new decade and what it will bring.

How about you? What vision have you imagined for yourself? Have you taken any action steps or practiced your vision? Are you ready for the reality of it?

Many blessings, hopes, dreams and most of all, good times to all of you as we journey forth.

Ever Evolving

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Aging. There is a reason why it is a verb and not a noun. Or a journey rather than a destination. Some days I just blaze through them when I am focused on a task and not even notice that the time has passed.

Other days, I look in the mirror and think: WTF what is going on here?

Lately, I’m a bit obsessed with my wardrobe. I’ve always been a fashionista, with a tendency to make a statement with my clothing. I like edgy with leather moto jackets and studded boots. I like bohemian with flowy prints. I like color, texture and patterns. No one that knows me would call me beige.

What comes with aging, that is so mind-boggling, is the constant state of body change. All you women out there who have gone through menopause, know exactly what I’m talking about. There are a gazillion blog posts written on this very subject. Lots of WTF moments.

Change is inevitable, but I think it is difficult to accept what happens to your body. Your boobs get bigger and they droop. Your ass gets bigger and droops. And then there is this round thing that shows up around your waist like a Monday morning donut. WTF. It is not an easy task to get them corralled and back in shape.

A diet shouldn’t be a diet, but a lifestyle. Learn to love vegetables. Eat hormone free meat. Seriously? If it makes an animal get bigger, what do you think happens to you? Practice intermittent fasting, if nothing but to eliminate the digesting grumbles in the middle of the night. Take supplements because, yes, they really do work. Drink water with a chunk of lemon in it. It makes you pee, but you’ll notice the puffiness goes away.

Exercise. Walk. Take the stairs. Do weight-bearing repetitions several times a week. Even if it doesn’t do much for your shape, your bones and joints will love you. Having muscles will help you get out of bed in the morning, instead of just rolling over and hoping you don’t end up on the floor. Our muscles get weaker as we age, so you can counteract that by lifting weights.

Take care of your hair and skin. Nothing ages you faster than looking like you don’t give a sh*t. Gray hair looks awesome when it is well-cared for. Spending money on good hair products is worth it. Same thing with your skin. If you live in a dry climate, like I do, moisturizers are a must unless you like itching your way through winter. Coconut oil works quite well.

Keep up with your teeth. Brush, floss, see your dentist. Healthy teeth keep you healthier.

Breathe. Meditate. Get out in nature.

It will make it a lot easier to go back into your closet and throw out all the things you bought last year that no longer fit.

Festi-fall

IMG_0687Every now and then, my fashionista side says “let’s go play fashion shoot” and off we go to some interesting locale to get my vogue on.

September is nearly at its end, and the leaves are changing colors and floating to the earth. These last few days of warm weather herald a flurry of festivals; whether it is an outdoor concert or a romp through a pumpkin patch. Or for many, a chance to suck down a few gallons of beer at an Oktoberfest.

The beautiful colors of fall had me pulling on some festival worthy garments, such as this gorgeously embroidery tunic from Johnny Was, aptly named “Festival Tunic”. The pants are from Sundance and the 4-inch platform sandals are by Schutz. Although I wouldn’t recommend sauntering through a pumpkin patch in them. The happy hippy hat is from some shop in Estes Park.

IMG_0674Fall is such a lovely season. I think Mother Nature gives us all Her glory as a present before the frigid days of winter. Something to stick in our mind as we hunker down and nurture ourselves while She rebuilds herself for another season. And so should we. Getting out there in all my glory helps to remind me that whatever is hiding beneath those layers of clothes, like it or not, it is me and I can rebuild myself with all the intent and care as Mother Nature. Sometimes She, too, doesn’t look Her best, but with faith and knowingness comes another season to get Her festi-fall on.

And so will I.

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Just Peachy

peachesIt is Palisade Peach time in Colorado. If you have never had one, you are missing out on one of life’s greatest treats. Rumor has it that they are better than Georgia peaches. Sorry GA.

Mother Nature graciously gifts us with this annual bounty of flavorful goodness, reminding us of life’s true sweetness. One bite of these babies puts bliss upon your tongue and will fill you up without longing for anything beyond. This is true sweet, not sugar, not chemical substitutes, not some lab-cooked corn laden concoction that gets you addicted with the first taste.

Our Dear Mother is telling us to reach for Her blessings of fruit when we need a pick-me-up from life. If you are having a bad day or a series of bad days, put down the soda, the alcohol or any other substance that will only give you a temporary lift and leave behind unseen damage. She’s not too happy about genetic modification either, natural fruit is always available even if it needs to be shipped from another country.

When you cut them open, most fruit has a visible seed. Although you might not have the climate to grow that type of fruit, a seed is available to continue with your own harvest. Mother Nature loves renewables. A seed is also a reminder to plant ideas. When you take time to savor a piece of fruit, the pleasure helps you to relax and you might get creative thoughts. Use those thoughts to plant your own seed so when it’s harvest time, it will be Just Peachy.

I Wants It

barbecue-2098020_1920You remember Gollum from “Lord of the Rings”. An emaciated creature who craved an empowered gold ring. A craving so intense that nothing else mattered. I doubt that even a junkie would be that far gone.

Cravings are powerful. I’m sure you’ve experienced them in some form or another. Like OMG, nothing will do but you have to have a bag of chips before you die of starvation! Not likely, unless you are on “Naked and Afraid”, and even then they would rescue you before death.

If you are of average weight and maintain it, cravings are fairly normal. They typically signify unmet needs for fun, excitement or love. Basically, you are bored and food fills a hole. If you struggle with being overweight or are a chronic dieter, then food cravings and overeating signal unmet emotional needs. Overeating often springs from anxiety or depression. I am not a doctor, nor am I providing a diagnosis, but if you struggle with these issues please see a doctor or therapist. Life is too short, and you are missing out on too many good things so make your overall health a priority.

Real physical hunger comes on slowly and your stomach tells you it needs fuel. Emotional hunger swirls in your mind and triggers taste sensations in your mouth. Poor nutrition, blood sugar swings, alcohol and drugs mess with your brain chemicals – especially serotonin – and cause even more cravings. Give your body the proper fuel and in return, it will provide you with energy and feel-good chemicals so you want to get out and enjoy life. Good trade-off, I’m thinking.

Lately, I’ve noticed that I have been overeating. Nothing extreme, but I’m looking a little poochy. Ick. And not for anything in particular as that points to different needs, such as salty-crunchy for anxiety. So I decided I needed to look into my need for food.

Sometimes we overeat for simple reasons: obligation – someone brought cookies to work and you don’t want to hurt their feelings; not wasting – you ordered the food at a restaurant and don’t want to leave a full plate, although a doggie bag is always an option; taste – it’s damn good!; boredom – snacky foods give you something to do; true hunger – eat too fast and eat too much; tired – hoping it sparks energy. These are a few of the reasons we shovel in more than we need.

Well hmm, I think those are my reasons.

I’ve b*itched about my work plenty, but it is a long day from waking to coming home. I have plenty of responsibility that goes from all-out-balls-to-the-wall to sitting and waiting. Anyone that does accounting work understands those cycles. During the boring times, I eat. During the stressful times, I work through lunch, go home tired, eat to refuel and have a drink to unwind. The perfect combination to build tummy fat. Because of all that, I have set aside some activities that I would normally enjoy doing – like I don’t have the time and energy for them. I know, practice what you preach. Eating has become the new enjoyment. Therein lies the problem.

Using food as a replacement for getting your needs met is a bad idea, but instead of focusing on food as the enemy search for the root. Give yourself permission to have fun. Schedule some free time in your day, just for you, to do something you love. Practice self-care. Give your relationships some attention. Hug your friends. Get out in nature and soak up a little sun. Maybe do some energy work. The third chakra – Solar Plexus – is at the navel. It governs personal power, so it may be said that a little tummy fat protects your power. Maybe your personal boundaries need a little work. The second chakra – Sacral – is directly below and governs pleasure, emotions and addictions. A definite connection. If you sit at a desk all day, like me, then the two probably get squished into one muddled energetic glob.

Hmm. Addictions ending up in the stomach. Better get up and stretch, but not for another cookie.

I wants it. . .

 

It’s Five O’clock Somewhere

IMG_20190505_132400079 (1)Alcoholism is a serious and debilitating disease that engulfs the mind, body and spirit. It can contribute to any number of health issues and can result in death. From my research, alcoholism can be a coping mechanism for deep, personal issues. It is a sad waste of a beautiful human life.

There is no doubt that drinking alcohol can be fun. A summer afternoon, an evening cocktail party, wine pairings, all are fun gatherings with friends. A cold beer after yard work. A “topping off” after the completion of a project. All reasons to offer a toast. But anything in excess is unhealthy for your well-being.

When you are super stressed, it is easy to reach for a cocktail to numb your nervous system. It may be helpful for the moment, but you’ll wake up in the middle of the night just as restless and edgy as you started. Instead take a walk, or engage in some other mild form of exercise. Meditate. Read a book. Work a puzzle. The idea behind stress relief is to focus your thoughts on something that relaxes you, which will help you do actions that relax your body.

Treat alcohol as a treat, and just because it’s five o-clock somewhere doesn’t mean it needs to be five o’clock every night.

Decaffeinated

coffee-791045_1920I am trying to stick with decaf coffee. Too much of the regular stuff tends to make me anxious, not a good thing for the anxiety prone. But there are days when you need a hit of jet fuel to give you momentum.

The last several weeks have been very hectic. At work, it is budget prep season and that takes a lot of time, thought and people cooperation. I coordinate the effort for the whole department so I have to make sure everything gets done on time. In the midst of that, there have been several long drawn-out audits. They have brought to the surface some issues that the entire organization has been neglecting. I hesitate to say that, because it is not that they were intentionally neglectful just some timing issues. Along with all that, there is the usual flurry of work and month end duties. There are many things for me to remember and be responsible for. I keep a list, but sometimes my mind just runs in hyperdrive, and on occasion, I kind of lose track where I’m at. Like last Friday morning, for example.

I was tired from the week so I thought I would treat myself to a Starbucks latte. I love them so they must be consumed in a limited quantity. So long about 6:15, I was waiting in the drive-thru line. I’m zoning out, listening to the radio and waiting for some movement in the cars in front of me. Finally, I inch forward and am next to the menu board. I glance at it briefly, already knowing what I want. I am totally in the zone. Then I hear a voice “if you would like to place an order, you will need to roll down your window”.  Sigh.  Apparently, I need to lay off the decaf for awhile.

I roll down my car window. “I’m sorry”, I say with a laugh, “I guess I really need some caffeine”.

This is surely a sign that I am taking life way too seriously and need some rest. As luck would have it, I planned a day off on Monday.

I plan on drinking lots of caffeine.

Rest and Digest

brunch-788499_1920Or not eating while you are stressed.  I’ve been reading a book “The Microbiome Diet” by Raphael Kellman, MD  (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2014) and it is about getting your gut healthy to boost your immune system and lose weight.  Very helpful and a good read.

There is a section in the book that talks about eating while you are stressed and that your body says “we are at war and need to hold onto every last drop of food ‘cause starvation’s coming!”  (statement, mine)  I agree, because what do we so often do when we’re in squirrel-chasing mode but shovel in food.  Usually crap that makes you feel horrible in the middle of the night when your body gets around to deciding whether or not to digest it.

Stress can be blamed for everything.  Sort of like a younger sibling.  Only meaner.  And with red hair.

So you gotta stop, unwind yourself from the electronic device, breathe deep and then sit down to dinner.  Without the television or device.  When was the last time you actually sat down to dinner and had a conversation with the people in your house?  Try it sometime, they have interesting things to say and there will be happy tummies on the way.  Keep doing that and you might not have a group cold virus ruling your house this winter.

I’ve been yapping a lot lately about how busy I have been.  Got some of those outdoor chores done, and I just finished a big project at work.  So I finally have a slow day, and I don’t know what to do with myself.  Hah!  See what happens when you are a stress-activated junkie and you don’t get your fix.  Ya just get more anxious.  So I made myself relax and enjoy the peaceful day.  When I sat down to lunch, after my walk, I did it with the idea of enjoying my food.  It wasn’t the greatest choice of food, but I took the time to savor and chew slowly.  It seemed to taste better and my tummy isn’t protesting.

Digesting isn’t just limited to eating.  Accepting new ideas, behaviors, situations, or whatever also need to be digested.  If you allow yourself to relax, you’ll clear your mind to accept or have the wisdom to make changes.

And then you’ll have more time to relax and have dinner with those strangers that live in your house.