Living in the Moment

Yesterday I accompanied a friend, Susan Swern, on her eight hour round trip to Aspen. Her goal in town was to speak to an art dealer and an autograph expert. We both love road trips, so it was perfect. She is also my eating coach with Eating IQ. At various times during the drive, she asked me to join her in an exercise in “Living in the Moment”.

“For 5 minutes, observe the scenery. Just notice.” she said.

I thought, that will be easy. Boy was I wrong! Everything reminded me of my husband who had passed 18 months earlier. Tears streamed down my cheeks. We talked about how my thoughts were intruding, bringing in sadness.

She said, “You control your thoughts. Let’s try again.”

The second time was easier. I saw the fences in the snow and noticed the posts were thick, then thin, then thick. My thoughts invaded again. “I remember learning to draw perspective with fences and telephone poles when I was practicing drawing as a girl.” Oops! Those thoughts are persistent! But it also reminded me how I would always be in the moment when I was drawing or painting. Hours would pass without notice. Only the act of drawing was reality.

The third time was the charm. We were in Glenwood Canyon, the Colorado River slowly flowing west, dark against the snowy shore. Red rocks formed the canyon walls with tall dark spruce clinging to cracks with a backdrop of bright white snow. I achieved the joy of Living in the Moment by simply observing what is.. now. Ahhhh.

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