CELEBRATIONS BRING WELLNESS

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I’ve just returned from spending a couple of weeks with family. It was a really, really good time of being together, and of celebrations! There were two birthdays to celebrate, a new house construction beginning to take shape, and a wedding anniversary!

Celebrating the big wins seems to be a normal part of our culture, like when a huge promotion, a completed project, or a coveted form of recognition happens. We also do well at celebrating special events such as birthdays and wedding anniversaries. But taking time to celebrate little things is much harder, and can easily be overlooked or not thought of as important enough to make time for.

By “little things”, I don’t mean unimportant or trivial things. I mean things that we might take for granted, or that we might not take the time to recognize as accomplishments. So, for example, after having surgery for a brain tumor, my family and I celebrated the good news that it was non-cancerous – in a small way, of course,  because I was recovering from the surgery. We remembered to celebrate the first year anniversary. But then it faded into the background, until this September when my daughter-in-law wished me a “happy decade brainiversary”. She remembered that it was 10 years ago when I made it through surgery and found I was going to recover to live a normal life. THAT was worth celebrating! I got to appreciate all over again how special life is, and how amazing health and wellness has become to me.

What about celebrating the small steps you’ve put in place to reach your “big goal”? That’s worth celebrating too! As an artist, I set goals for how many paintings I want to do each year. I don’t just celebrate at the end of the year, nor after each painting only, but I celebrate each time I begin a painting, each time I persevere through the “ugly” stage, every time I feel like quitting but don’t. Celebrating these small victories makes me stronger, makes me aware that I can and do achieve these small goals.

But what about when I don’t succeed at little or big things? Then it’s even more important to celebrate what I have learned from mistakes and failures! Many times those  mistakes and failures have led me to a completely different place, and created the opportunity to become someone I could never have imagined. Without THOSE times, I would not be where I am this moment, writing to you. It is those moments which have taught me so much more than I could ever have learned in the fleeting moments of “success”!

Celebrations bring wellness. Through recognizing the ups and downs of life, reflecting on what we’ve done, who we’ve known, the importance of family and friends, we are filled with gratitude for the many blessings which are in our lives. And gratitude for life, even with its challenges, creates wellness.

Celebrate today! Write a note to yourself to say “well done!”, make an entry in a gratitude journal, call a friend and celebrate your friendship with a conversation, hug your partner to celebrate the love you share, pick a single flower from your garden and place it where you can celebrate its beauty, enjoy some popcorn as a treat… find special and creative ways to celebrate your life, to celebrate you, to celebrate family and friends. I guarantee you – it will be worth it, and celebrating will bring a sense of wellness every. single. time!

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Do You See What I See?

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Do you know what this is? You might see it as a Far Infared Sauna, but I see it as a miraculous gift.

Eight years ago, my husband and I went into a state of shock when he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. He had just taken early retirement, and we were looking ahead to a new chapter of adventures and travel. Everything changed in the space of a few moments.

I won’t bore you with all of the details, but fast forward a number of months, and he was being seen by a Functional Medicine doctor as well as his family physician and a hemotologist at the local cancer center. His was a “wait and see what happens” type of leukemia, so no treatment was anticipated by  for the first year…but then it would probably be the standard chemo and bone marrow transplants, depending on how quickly things progressed, according to the hemotologist. 

Meanwhile, the Functional Medicine doctor was running tests, giving various treatments, recommending supplements to accompany our new way of eating and living, as well as giving us details on the progression of my husband’s improving health.

One of the treatments Syd had two times a month was using a “Far Infrared Sauna” at the doctor’s office. This was so that he would sweat out toxins which were affecting his immune system’s ability to cope with disease. He enjoyed these sessions very much, and they DID help him feel better, along with all the other pieces of the doctor’s protocol to strengthen Syd’s immune system.

When we moved from Alberta a couple of years later, we wanted to get a sauna for in our home – that is, until we discovered the cost of one. Let’s just say they’re not cheap! We basically put the thought aside as an impossibility.

Where we are living, there are quite a few “estate sales”. Syd was looking to purchase a few things for his wood working shop, and so visited one of these sales. And there, for less than one quarter of the cost of a new sauna, was the one meant for us! It was in perfect condition, with speakers for music even. He put our name on it, and that afternoon we took it all apart and brought it home.

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We use the Infrared Sauna every single week. Our ritual is on Saturday mornings we put it on and each of us spends between 30 and 45 minutes as an “alone” time – reading, meditating, praying, slowing down and relaxing. It is a lovely way to begin the day, and to de-stress from the week.

I see this very expensive sauna as a gift – a miracle if you will. We are grateful to have it and to reap the benefits that regular use brings to our overall wellness. If you have the money, I highly recommend researching what a sauna of this kind can do for you. If you, like us, can’t afford a sauna, there are many gyms and doctor’s offices that have them available for you to use for a fee. Search one out in your area, and use it. Even once a month gives health-promoting benefits. And if you keep your eyes on websites like Kijiji and check estates sales…you NEVER know what kind of a blessing is waiting for YOU when you are paying attention! 🙂

P.S.: Syd is still in a “wait and see” period with the leukemia…his hematologist here says he may never need treatment with chemo and bone marrow transplants as long as his health remains as good as it is currently! More to be grateful for…more reasons to share the health and wellness discoveries we’ve made on this life’s journey!

From the Ground Up: Earthing

Beach.jpg I grew up by the ocean, and when as an adult I lived on the prairies, I missed it terribly. As a child, I would spend many happy hours digging and playing in the sand. When a teenager, I spent many, many hours on the huge rocks on the beach, which sat at the edge of the bluffs, dreaming of my future. During stormy times in my life, the ocean was a comfort and a mystery to me…especially when the fog was rolling in to shore, thick and wet, and the mournful sound of the fog horn was bellowing every few minutes. Little did I know that being on the beach was also healing for me.

Just over five years ago, my husband and I moved to be by the ocean again – but on the opposite side of our huge country of Canada from where I grew up. Now I am living in the Pacific Northwest, on Vancouver Island. I am so very blessed to be able to reach several beaches within minutes of walking, riding a bike or driving. And now that I am aware of the benefits of Grounding, I am even more grateful to be where the climate allows me to practise this form of wellness on a regular basis. But no matter where you live, you too can practise Grounding, or Earthing as it is also called.

So, just what is Grounding? There are many things which bring us health benefits, and the energy of the earth is one. It used to be that people received earth’s energy when they had their hands in the soil, gardening, or when they went barefoot in the grass and on sandy beaches in the summer. In fact, grounding is part of the reason many people like to spend vacations on a beach…they feel better, but are unaware of the reason why! When we connect with the earth directly – barefoot – we receive a tiny charge of energy which helps us feel well. Our bodies are great conductors, as we are made up of so much water, and the energy from the earth “recharges” our body battery, so to speak. The free electrons on the surface of the earth transfer into our body easily, as long as we have direct contact with the earth through our skin. The electric charge is even more beneficial if you are able to walk on WET sand, and who doesn’t love wading at the water’s edge of the ocean? But just walking barefoot through your grass, or sitting on a lawn chair with your bare feet in the grass/soil works beautifully as well.

Most of us in Canada don’t live in a climate which enables us to “ground” year round. Fortunately, with the latest technology, you can purchase various grounding sheets and blankets, as well as pads and mats for when you work on your electronic devices. My sister claims she gets relief from aches and pains when she sleeps on her grounding sheet, and there are many testimonials from product users which make me think there are definite health benefits for many, and especially for those who don’t have access to beaches, gardens, and grass in the winter.

Even though it’s now winter, I have the privilege of walking on the beach in my bare feet. The sand may be quite cold, but it’s possible. Even a few minutes of grounding is worthy of chilliness, and it seems to me that I should take every advantage of living next to the beautiful Salish Sea! So, for abundant wellness, begin to plan for ways you can incorporate grounding into your life. Feel the earth’s energy recharging your body with health and wellness. It’s free, it’s enjoyable, and it’s building your wellness, from the ground up!

 

 

 

 

WARMING CAULI-SWEET SOUP RECIPE

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BUSY? That’s an understatement for many of us, and especially as the holidays approach! When I came to do this post, I noticed how it’s been almost 4 weeks since my last post…whhhaattt??? How did that happen? Well, like your life, it’s been really, really busy around here.  So, my apologies for taking so long to come back to post something of help to you!

So, how do you cope when life is running way too full and way too fast? One thing I do when time is short is make soup – quick, easy, and yummy soup! Lots of it, all at once, using my pressure cooker. Then I use the left overs for lunches, and sometimes I can even squeeze another dinner out of this recipe, as it makes 12 cups.

About 8 years ago, when we lived in Calgary, Alberta, our second rice cooker decided it was done. A rice cooker was one kitchen tool I decided I couldn’t live without, so we drove over to a large Asian market and were looking at all the rice cookers available.  A minute Asian woman came up behind us and she tapped me on the shoulder, pointed to one cooker, and told me: “You buy. Very fast. Very fast!”  “This one?” Her head nodded, and she again said, “You buy!” So we did…we bought the model she recommended, and it turned out to be a pressure cooker quite similar to the InstaPots you can get most everywhere today.

What a GREAT buy!!! It has a large capacity stainless steel interior, and cooks basically anything and everything you can think of. I had to learn how to use it by trial and error as the directions were in Chinese…but as more and more videos came on YouTube and more and more recipes became available on Pinterest, I learned how to use my pressure cooker to save me tons of time and lots of money. That’s always a win!

So, to help you through the crazy business of the holiday season, here’s a recipe you will want to make over and over. It takes very few ingredients, very little prep, and cooks all by itself while you get to do other important things.

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Place these ingredients into your pressure cooker

1 head of cauliflower, about 2 lbs.  (Wash and cut into 4ths if you wish. No need to peel outer leaves or to core unless you want to)

2 pounds of sweet potato, washed and cut into large pieces (Your choice as to the kind of sweet potato. I like the orange fleshed in this soup.)

1 – 3  or more cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped into large pieces

1 large onion, peeled and cut in half

spices of your choice : I use 2 Tbsp. organic dried dill

2 Tbsp. paprika

1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

2 Tbsp. Kirkland no salt spice

2 tsp. tumeric

salt and pepper to taste

Add 8 cups of vegetable broth. If you don’t have veggie broth, use water or a combination of veggie broth and water to equal 8 cups.

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Secure the lid on your pressure cooker, and choose the manual setting so that you can set the timer for 10 minutes.  Once the liquid comes up to temperature, the ingredients will cook for 10 minutes. Once the soup has finished cooking for the 10 minutes, allow it to vent on its own for at least 10 minutes, or until all the pressure has released on its own.

If you only wait 10 minutes after the soup is cooked before you vent the pressure cooker on your own, be sure there is no pressure left when you remove the top. Your veggies will be firmer than if you wait for 20 minutes, as they continue to soften even when the machine is no longer cooking them.

At this point, you should add:

  • 2 Tbsp. to 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast (optional – but makes the soup taste amazing)
  • 4 Tbsp. or more of Dijon mustard
  • 2 – 4 cups of plant “milk” of your choice (almond, hemp, oat, coconut, etc.)
  • Use an immersible blender or a high powered blender to make a smooth soup. If using the immersible blender, you can do it right in the pressure cooker. If using a high powered blender, do it in smaller batches rather than filling the blender full.  And that’s it! Your soup is ready – smooth, hot and very yummy!

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FACECLOTH? NO THANKS!

Today I would like to introduce you to an incredible skin care tool. It is vegan, free from chemicals, colouring, additives and irritants. It is 100% biodegradable and fully sustainable. This tool is made of 100% natural vegetable fibre, is packed with minerals and antioxidants and is environmentally safe and free of toxins.

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The Konjac Sponge Co. travel set of face and body sponges. Comes in a bag for packing and for drying the sponges after use

This is the Konjac sponge! It is made from a potato (Konnyaku) which is a plant native to Asia, and grown at high altitudes. The Konjac potato is full of minerals and is naturally alkaline, which means it is gentle on your skin.

The Konnyaku potato has been used in China, Japan and Korea for over 1500 years in many ways, but especially as a beauty product. The first Konjac sponge that I bought and used was created for delicate baby skin!

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Andalou Naturals konjac sponges

Other companies besides The Konjac Sponge Co sell Konjac sponges – like these ones from Andalou Naturals. Different shapes or colors can mean different degrees of hardness, or that some ingredients have been added to the sponge, like pink clay, volcanic scoria or other “things” –  which help with deep cleaning, cell stimulation and circulation and so on.

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Young Living Orange Blossom Face Wash

I find the sponge is a perfect partner for my Young Living Orange Blossom Face Wash. In fact, just a pea-sized drop of face cleanser on the sponge makes the face wash go much farther, and it suds up much more than using a cotton pad or cotton ball. AND it is so soft on the facial skin…you won’t believe how wonderful it feels! Certainly much, much softer than a face cloth.

Wondering where you can purchase your own? Andalou Naturals are sold in many health food stores as well as some grocery store,s in their health or pharmacy section. I ordered my Konjac Sponge Co set from Amazon.ca – here.  You can also check out the website for the Konjac Sponge Co here.

OIL PULLING

So let’s talk about oral health today. There are MANY scientific studies which have been done over the last 10 years or so which support the idea that most disease actually starts in the MOUTH!  That’s right…your mouth holds a key your wellness. Huh!

What exactly does that mean for us? Well, when the wrong bacteria have a place to thrive, or when the levels of your mouth bacteria get out of balance, the conditions for disease are created. The longer these conditions remain, the more disease can get a strong hold, and eventually wreak havoc with your health.

A case in point is my husband. When he began to have severe health problems, the functional medicine doctor we went to told us he needed to see a special dentist who could assess whether his mouth was the cause of his symptoms. When we did see a “biological” dentist, it WAS found that he had significant areas of bacterial and fungal growth in cavitations (not cavities) which were causing many of his symptoms. Once these areas were dealt with, his health rapidly improved. Although the mouth was not the ONLY problem my husband had, his health did dramatically improve once the mouth was properly taken care of.

So, short of finding a biological dentist and having special work done on the mouth, how can we prevent or help to avoid the problems in the first place? One ancient practise is called “oil pulling”.  On Webmd.com, in an article by Colleen Oakley exploring the effectiveness of oil pulling,  Jessica T. Emery, DMD says,  “This oral therapy is a type of Ayurvedic medicine [a traditional Indian system] that dates back 3,000 years. It involves swishing approximately 1 tablespoon of oil — typically coconut, sesame, or sunflower oil — in your mouth for about 20 minutes and then spitting it out.”

“Unlike some so-called natural home remedies, it’s not a practice that’s based on pseudo-science. Recent studies show that oil pulling helps against gingivitis, plaque, and microorganisms that cause bad breath. How? “Most microorganisms inhabiting the mouth consist of a single cell,” Emery says. “Cells are covered with a lipid, or fatty, membrane, which is the cell’s skin. When these cells come into contact with oil, a fat, they naturally adhere to each other.”

Here’s how we do our oil pulling. First, I bought these silicone moulds to make the process easier. Aren’t they cute?

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Next, I fill the molds with pure, cold pressed virgin coconut oil. This makes it easy to get just the right amount of oil each time for the oil pulling.

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Then I put the molds into the freezer. Once the coconut oil is frozen, I pop the coconut oil shapes into a glass container, and put it back into the freezer.

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Each morning, we take out 1 coconut oil shape and use it for oil pulling. If this amount is too much for you, just bite the shape into 2 parts and use one of them for your daily pull.

To do the oil pulling, you “chew” the coconut oil and swish it around in your mouth. The oil becomes liquid very quickly, so you don’t need to worry that it is frozen…once you begin to chew, it is no longer solid. You chew and swish for 5 – 20 minutes. You’ll probably want to begin with 5 minutes. If you want to work up to 20 minutes, I find it’s easier if I’m doing it while in the shower. Of course, I have my little container with me to spit into in case I have reached my tolerance limit for chewing!

Once you have completed your 5 – 20 minutes of chewing and swishing, you’ll want to spit the coconut oil into a container, to dispose of the oil in your compost or in your garbage. DO NOT ALLOW THE COCONUT OIL TO GO DOWN THE SINK!!! It will clog your drains – guaranteed!

You can do your oil pulling every day, or you can do it several times a week. The benefits of oil pulling may not be obvious to you, but it will assist you in your quest for health and wellness! Happy pulling!

Your Tip of the Week

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I planted garlic in my garden at the end of September for harvesting in the spring. Green shoots are already poking through the ground!!! We love garlic in just about everything…well, not in our smoothies, or in other drinks, but most cooked dishes have garlic in them, for sure. Did you know there are many different types of garlic? In my photo you see Russian Red (one of the kinds I planted) and German White, both of which are classified as “hard neck” garlic. Maybe the Russian Red could be called a Red Neck??? Sorry…just my attempt at humor!

I have a couple of garlic tips for you today. Did you know that garlic keeps better, stays fresher, and is more nutritious if you keep it in your refrigerator? I KNOW, right? We were always told to keep it on the counter! But recent scientific studies show that in the fridge is best. Just make sure you don’t place it in the crisper drawer, where the humidity is too high. I place mine in my garlic jar, and put the jar on a shelf in the fridge.

Also, when you use garlic, it is best to dice, chop, slice, or press the garlic, and then LEAVE IT TO REST for 10 minutes before adding it to the dish you are making. This creates better nutritional value, since this allows the greatest amount of allicin to develop. As well, it ensures the allicin is not destroyed by heat when you allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Cool!

And lastly, if you find a sale on garlic, buy a LOT of it because you can skin it, chop it and store it in your freezer! When we were at my daughter’s home in Spain, she had some frozen garlic which came in a plastic bag about the size of a sandwich baggie. The garlic was in small chunks that she was able to add to any dish she was cooking, and it was fresh tasting. You wouldn’t have guessed it had been frozen.

Garlic Fact: Recent scientific studies have found that 3 cloves of garlic contain the same bacterial activity as a standard dose of penicillin.