The Year of the Monkey

I remember how much I enjoyed reading about the Chinese zodiac on the paper place mats in the Chinese restaurants in small Florida towns. Do they still make those place mats?  Now I make my own Asian food or order take-out. My Chinese zodiac animal is the Water Snake, which is perfect for me as I have always loved snakes. My childhood was spent in the midst of a citrus grove on the shores of a Florida lake, a perfect location to see snakes. I’ve never felt the fear most people experience. Instead I have an intense curiosity and feel gratitude for every snake that crosses my path.

Monkeys are very different for me. They always bothered me somewhat, screaming as they swing from branch to branch in zoos or as a child, watching the escapees in the trees surrounding Silver Springs, Florida.  My Italian-American mother-in-law had a pet monkey who liked to throw his feces at people he didn’t like. Thankfully, this monkey was no longer in residence during my visits. The horoscope for Snakes is pretty good during this Year of the Monkey. Maybe monkeys are OK now.

Reading about the 2016 Year of the Monkey, I’ve learned new things about the Chinese New Year calendar.

  • The idea of compatibility based on your horoscope originated with the Chinese zodiac.
  • Celebration of the Chinese New Year is complex. February 7th is the Eve,  the 8th is the Day and the 22nd is the Lantern Festival.
  • If your Chinese zodiac is the Monkey, this year is thought to be unlucky for you. How to be lucky in your zodiac year.
  • Each zodiac animal is associated with one of the five elements. In 2016, the Monkey is associated with Fire.
  • If you were born in the  Year of the Monkey, your personal traits are witty, intelligent, ambitious, and adventurous.

Grateful for Changes in My Diet

I’ve been exploring new ways to be healthier the last year. My journey brought me to Susan Swern, Eating IQ and Dr. Paul Austin, Chiropractic Functional Neurologist. In mid-December 2015, we met to go over my Cyrex Array 10 Food Immune Reactivity Screen. When I saw my test results with the first values in the yellow and red columns, I was taken aback. One whole food group just fell off my plate! Instead of fearing the second page, I was curious. Thankfully most results were in the green “safe” column. I breathed a sigh of relief. Just a few nuts and peanut butter with sensitivity on page 2. Each page of data became “greener”; all vegetables and fruits, all meat and seafood (except cooked tuna and imitation crab meat) were safe for me to eat.

I was ecstatic!  “Look at all I CAN eat!”

The doctor and certified eating psychology coach both looked dumbfounded. They had never had a patient so happy who had food sensitivities that included gluten (all wheat products), dairy (eggs, milk, cheese, goat milk) and rice (white, brown, and wild).

As you can imagine, these foods were staples in my diet. Now, as I avoid these foods, I’ve come to appreciate every morsel of healthy food. And I’m feeling better! Bloating, abdominal discomfort, intestinal gas and joint pain were so prevalent in my life, I considered it normal. Now I’m amazed to feel the nuance of digestion. I eat and can discern true fullness. There are no unpleasant digestive symptoms, just a calm, peaceful, clean feeling that brings a smile to my face.

I love to cook and these changes are empowering as I discover new ways to tickle my palate while eating more of the vegetables and fruits my body craves. Eating out is an opportunity to peruse the menu, finding the healthy vegetables and communicating with the server those few ingredients to leave off my plate. I have a new love for me and compassion for others with food sensitivities.

What about breakfast? It traditionally includes a lot of the foods I no longer eat. My EatingIQ food coach, Susan Swern, told me, “Think of breakfast like any other meal.”

Now I have breakfasts with sautéed vegetables, meat and potatoes or grits. It’s amazing how good food tastes, my palette poised and eager after a night of rest. For snacks, I like to create a bowl of fruit. My favorites are fresh oranges, raspberries and bananas. Whole foods have been the norm in my diet for a while, now I’m exploring a more varied diet, eating almost no processed foods.

I am so grateful to both find the foods that were making me ill and to be excited about what my body wants. Follow me on Twitter, Pinterest, and friend me on Facebook as I post some of my dietary joys. #GratefulForDietChanges


My New & Improved Breakfast

Mapping Out an Amazing 2016 – Looking Back

For the second year, I’ve joined Jennifer Steck in her class to map out the year. My 2015 was incredible, partly because I started it with Jennifer.

In order to map out 2016, we first reviewed 2015. It was therapeutic to think about the triumphs, the sadness and the bravery I experienced the last 12 months. Giving myself credit for my past, sets the stage for current goals and aspirations, which lead to continued success.

Jennifer asked us, “What was your word for 2015?”

I forgot to bring my 2015 worksheets with my “defining word”. My memory told me it was TRANSFORM. However, locating my process sheets when I returned home, I found the actual word was RECREATE. I smiled because I saw these two words hand in hand walking through my year. By setting my baseline goals, I followed the elements even though I never referred to my planning documents. My intention was firmly set in my subconscious and I allowed it to happen by noticing people and opportunities that came into my life and then listening to my inner voice and trusting its wisdom.

Curious what happened for me in 2015? Here we go!

Was your 2015 a year you would like to forget? Or was it monumental? Do you have an annual ritual at the beginning and/or end of the year?

I’d love to hear about it in comments.