Posts tagged ‘friends’

February 2, 2013

Connectedness

Breathe in. Breathe out.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
When you take a breath what do you think about?

Do it again. This time, think about your breath and the air you breathe.
Where does it come from?
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

Did you think about the plants and the trees?
I know. Many of us don’t want to stop and think about that. We feel weird. Or think others will think we’re weird.
But the plants and trees give us the gift of oxygen every second of our life.
And we, in return, give them carbon dioxide.
We have a relationship with the plants and the trees around us.

But it’s easy for us to forget.
It’s easy for us to forget that we have a relationship with the plants and trees on this planet.
But there’s more to it than that.
We have a relationship with every living species whether we want to admit it or not, we are connected.

When I stop to think about that, it makes me wonder, why is it then, that we find it so easy to abuse that relationship?
Why is it that we get so focused on “me” and lose focus on them?
Why do we find it so easy to ignore the earth and neglect the environment?

I know, some of us, myself included, like to think we’re being conscious of the environment. I recycle, I shut the lights off when I’m not using them, I don’t use chemicals in my yard, I compost and I try to be conscious of the Carbon Footprint I’m leaving behind, but the reality is, I like my life.

I like sitting on my iPad, typing away in my dining room, while the furnace runs to keep me warm on this frigid day. I like my car and the ability to go where I “need” to go whenever I want to.
I like the convenience of the stores that provide the “necessities” within a couple of miles of my home.

I like my life. And the reality is, to acknowledge that I’m connected to this planet, to the air, to the water, to the plants and the trees, and every living being from the microbes in the soil to the animals in the jungle on the other side of the world means I need to take responsibility for it.

Most of us would do anything to take care of our family and friends if they were in need. They are our blood, they hold a special place in our heart and we wouldn’t want to lose that. Yet to ask us to think about the earth, the environment or the living things around us is a different story. We take it for granted. In our lifetime, we’ve always had air to breathe, water at our disposal and food on our tables.

What if you chose not to feed your children or take care of an elderly grandparent or neighbor, how would you feel? Would you feel a pang of guilt in the pit of your stomach? Would you heart hurt knowing you’re neglecting them when you could be and should be doing something to help?

So why is it that when the plants and trees that supply the air that we breathe get neglected or the water that we take for granted that runs from our taps everyday gets wasted and when we abuse the resources that the environment provides for us, by using more than our “fair share” do we not feel equally guilty? Why do we find it so easy to disconnect ourselves from this?

What if we didn’t? What if, instead, when we go out the door or look up from our phones or out the windows of our house or cars, and we started paying attention to the air we breathe, the amount of water we use and the ways we could take care of the world around us a little better?
What if we treated the air, the water and the environment like family? Would you do anything differently? I know I would.

And when you really stop to think about it, we should. Because whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we are connected. We’re connected to every living thing around us just like we’re connected to our families and friends. Yes, we have a direct relationship with some, and a more distant relationship with others, but it’s no different than the relationship we have with our parents versus our distant cousins. And while we might feel a tighter bond with our mother or father or siblings than we do with our great aunt she is still family nonetheless.

So let’s pretend, even if it’s just for a moment, that the air is our mother, the water our father, the soil our siblings and the oil our grandparents. Let’s pretend we love them and value them the same as we do our families. Let’s pretend we care. Because if we do, we might change how we treat them. We may start paying attention to them. We may begin feeding them, nurturing them and watching out for them. We may restore the neglected relationship we have and start living in harmony again.

Let’s pretend for a moment that we are connected to the entire world around us. Let’s pretend that if we care for that world, that it will care for us.

Because guess what? She’s not called Mother Nature for nothing. We are connected.

Kate

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November 2, 2012

End of The Challenge: Final Reflections, Life Lessons and New Habits Going Forward

The 8 Weeks to a Better You! Challenge ended this past Saturday, October 27th, but I have to say that I learned a lifetime of lessons on this challenge.

Last week, in Nearing The End of The Challenge: Lessons 1 & 2, I posted the first two lessons I learned:

Challenge Lesson 1: Live mindfully, but keep everything in perspective, don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

Challenge Lesson 2: Don’t take life so seriously.  (You can be happy, have fun and live mindfully!)

Then, in The End of The Challenge: Why You Should Eat Less Meat and More Plants, I posted the next few lessons I learned:

Grow food! Eat Plants! Plants heal.

Not wanting to drag out the lessons forever, I thought I’d do a quick summary of the rest of the lessons I learned.  As a refresher, here are The Rules:

  1. Get at least 45 minutes of exercise per day.
  2. Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
  3. Drink 8 glasses of water per day
  4. No sugar, no white flour
  5. No soda, fast food, junk food
  6. Eat at least 2 fruits and 2 veggies per day
  7. No eating after 8pm
  8. Journal daily
  9. Read at least 15 minutes of scripture or uplifting reading each day
  10. Do at least one Act of Service or Random Act of Kindness or  each day

And, here’s what I learned:

  1. Exercise is my friend.  This challenge, I decided to take it easy on the exercise.  I have a tendency to push myself too hard, which usually means injury or burn-out.  When I was trying to figure out what I would do for exercise I knew I needed something I could sustain for eight weeks. I thought of the story The Turtle and The Hare.  I chose walking.  Ironically enough I’ve had two doctors tell me not to run, just walk, I actually listened.  I loved it, looked forward to it and missed it when I didn’t do it, just like a friend.
  2. Exercise in the morning.  I realized that if I don’t exercise in the morning, I usually won’t do it.  I learned that I love my morning walks, it wakes me up, fills my lungs with fresh air and lets me sort out my thoughts and plan my day.  When I’m done, my mind is clear and I feel good.
  3. Not enough sleep is not enough sleep.  With eight weeks to practice getting 7 hours of sleep, I paid close attention to what I felt like when I did get enough sleep and the days that I didn’t.  And now that I know what it feels like to get at least 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis, I’ve learned that my patience, creativity, understanding and happiness depends greatly upon how much sleep I get.  If I don’t get enough I’ll be setting myself up for disaster the next day.
  4. Water is key.  I’ve always had a tough time drinking enough water in a day, or rather, tracking how much water I drink, but I used a few tricks this time.  I have a couple of 16 oz. “beer glasses” at home.  I realized that if I drink four of those in a day I’m done.  And the nice thing is, most restaurants serve water in the same glasses so whether I’m home or out and about I can still keep tabs on it.  The other trick, as crazy as it sounds, is that I like to sip hot water.  I grab a coffee mug and sip away just like I would a cup of coffee.  If I combine my pint glasses and a couple of cups of hot water throughout my day, I know I’m set.  Amazingly, I now rank hydration right up there with sleep.  Being hydrated makes me feel fresh and energized.  When I get enough water I’m not groggy, my skin looks full (for a lack of a better way to put it) and I feel good.
  5. Sugar and white flour are not your friend.  Oh, I know they are tempting, trust me.  Pre-challenge I had the sweetest of sweet tooths and love bread and pasta.  What I’ve learned though, is that when I eat white sugar and white flour I feel hallow.  I have cravings that don’t stop, but when I replace white sugar with honey, agave, etc. and replace white flour with whole grain flours or other grain flours I feel satisfied without cravings.  I feel in control.
  6. Soda, fast food and junk food are poison.  I know it sounds extreme.  Everyone knows that these things “aren’t healthy”, but we still eat them.  I focused a lot of my energy in the past 8 weeks on food and it’s downright appalling that most of the stuff on grocery store shelves is legal much less labeled as “food”.  Food is nourishment for your body.  The junk that fills the middle of our stores is not food, it does not nourish our bodies and in most cases we can go so far as to say they are toxic.  There is study after study that shows that this is the stuff that causes Diabetes, Cancer, Heart Disease, contributes to ADD, ADHD, the list goes on.  What’s sad is that so many of us trust that if we find it on our store shelves it is okay to eat.  Wrong.  Basically it’s there because it won’t kill you, today, but keep eating it day in and day out and you’re just running an experiment, waiting to see which disease you will get. We all have to do our due diligence to read labels.  If it has more than 5 ingredients, has “hydrogenated” anything, high-fructose corn syrup or ingredients you can’t pronounce, put it back!  If you happen to frequent fast food restaurants, do yourself  favor, go online and look up the nutritional information for the things you usually order, if they’re bad, find some alternates and circle them.  Keep them in your car so you aren’t tempted to order the bad stuff when you go there.  And please, skip the soda, especially diet.  Your body and bones will thank you.
  7. I love coffee in the morning. The Challenge eliminated coffee.  They lumped it in with soda, because of the caffeine, which I personally had issue with because there are so many bad things about soda and no redeeming qualities, but I’ve found more benefits than drawbacks to drinking coffee.  In any case I ditched coffee for about 6 of the 8 weeks, that is until I discovered a link to coffee having a calming effect with my personality type, the reverse effect that it has on most people.  Like anything though, too much of a good thing is… too much.  Going forward I’ll keep it to two cups a day.
  8. Fruits and veggies are miracle workers.  I mentioned in my previous post, The End of The Challenge: Why You Should Eat Less Meat and More Plants, why plants are good for us.  Go there, read the post, watch the movies listed in the post.  Not to sound dramatic, but it just might save your life.
  9. Vegetarian doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.  As I navigated my way through food over the course of the past eight weeks, I started looking into a variety of diets.  Not diets in the sense of dieting, but diets in the sense of the way of eating.  When I realized I should be eating more plants, I naturally made my next stop at Vegetarian websites, cookbooks and magazines.  I found some great new recipes, have since subscribed to Vegetarian Times magazine but soon realized that “vegetarian” doesn’t necessarily mean “healthy” like I thought it did.  The vegetarian diet still allows for junk food, processed foods and foods high in fat.  So while vegetarian can be better, I still need to make sure it’s healthy.
  10. Eating out is a challenge.  A couple of weeks ago I went out with a few girlfriends for dinner.  I had decided before we got there that I was going to look for the vegetarian items on the menu to make choosing my meal a little easier.  Sadly, other than a salad, my options were veggie flat-bread (which was really good) or cream cheese stuffed, deep-fried mushrooms.  Tasty?  Yes.  Healthy?  Not by a long-stretch.  Menus are gradually changing, restaurants are gradually adding more organic food and healthier options, but we still have a really long way to go.  Unfortunately, if we all keep ordering the other stuff, the owners and chefs think that’s what we want.  If we want change, we need to request healthier options both in restaurants and in grocery stores.
  11. 8pm has become the witching hour.  I realize until I did the challenge, how frequently I used to snack after 8pm.  Thankfully this challenge taught me to plan better.  I try to eat dinner a little earlier, leaving enough time to get a snack in by 8pm which tides me until bedtime.  If I find myself getting hungry after 8pm I drink a glass of water or simply head to bed (depending on the time).  I realized that often times I would eat when I was up too late.
  12. Journaling is cheaper than a therapist.  It’s amazing the healing effect that jotting your thoughts on paper can have.  Whether its daily frustrations, random thoughts, future plans or what have you, journaling can really help clear your mind so you can continue with your day.
  13. Take time to read scripture or something uplifting. So many people I know say they don’t have time to read.  I used to be one of those people too, but when I saw “15 minutes” in the rules I thought, “I can squeeze in 15 minutes.”  Some days it can feel impossible, but I found if I could squeeze it in the reward is so worth it and often it makes me want to read more.
  14. Random Acts of Kindness are addictive and contagious.  I love to see people smile.  And one of the easiest ways to make someone smile is to be kind to them, but sometimes we can do a million kind things and not even get a glance, or acknowledgement, much less a smile.  Sometimes people don’t respond the way we think they should and that’s okay.  To truly do an Act of Service or Random Act of Kindness it takes letting go of expectations.  Doing it just to do it.  Not for recognition, not for reward, not so we can run and tell someone that we did it or so we can get a pat on the back.  Simply doing it to be kind to someone else.  If we go into it in that manner it will feel good no matter what the response and that feeling is highly addictive.  And what’s better is that once you get in the habit of being kind for no reason at all, it becomes easier and easier to do it.  And I’ve found, that when you are kind to others, that kindness is returned, not from the same people necessarily, but from others, almost as though kindness is contagious.  It keeps spreading until it comes back to you.  Karma, I guess you might say.
  15. I choose friends over rules.  The bond of friendship is far more important than any rule we might put upon ourselves.  If I’m offered dessert, thoughtfully made by my Mother, or if a friend asks, on the spur of the moment, if I would like to join her for a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop when I’m not supposed to be drinking coffee, I’ll always answer, yes.

There you have it, eight weeks of life lessons packed into three blog posts.  Hopefully, despite their lengthiness, you found some value, some tidbit to brighten your day or something to make you think.

I wish you a thoughtful, joyful day packed with your own life lessons and healthy habits.

Peace,

Kate

November 27, 2011

Still Thankful

I just wouldn’t feel right letting Thanksgiving go by without writing.

I had actually planned on writing prior to Thanksgiving Day, but that just wasn’t meant to be.  A few days before Thanksgiving I came down with the flu, you know, the full-blown body aches, fever, struggle to get out of bed flu.  Actually though, I was blessed.  It wasn’t the stomach flu.  And for that I was very, very thankful!

Nonetheless, I didn’t want the holiday to go by unacknowledged.  With all the craziness of the Christmas buying season starting as far back as October, pausing just long enough for all of us to take a few bites of turkey and a piece of pumpkin pie and then start right up again, I think it’s really important to stop, take a breath and look around at what really matters. Our health matters, our family and friends matter, having a roof over our head and food on the table matters, being loved matters.

There are so many negative things that we could focus on in the world right now that could be better, but it’s so important to take some time, pause and reflect on what’s going right.  What are we thankful for?

This year my health is something I’m incredibly thankful for.  You know that saying “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”? I’m so grateful to have my health back.  I know I’ve mentioned it before, but the past couple of years were scary.  What’s weird is that when the fevers ended at the end of May and my fatigue started to fade away I thought things were good.  At the time I had no idea how much had changed over time.  Over the past six months the fever has stayed away and my energy level has continued to increase, so much so that I don’t even recall when the last time was that I felt this good.  Even having the flu last week didn’t bother me. Okay, I mean it wasn’t fun, and it wiped me out at the time, but it was different.  Plus, I knew it would pass in a few days or so.

In addition to my health, I’m so thankful for my family and my friends.  My family and friends are my world.  They shape my life and are there for me to lean on when I’m not feeling strong. I have an incredible support system all of whom I’m very thankful for.

I know it may sound corny to some, but I’m thankful for my pets too.  To me, pets are a little piece of God.  They make me laugh, they snuggle when I’m down or need a hug.  They have definitely challenged me to make me a stronger person.  And at the end of the day, no matter what I’ve said or done, no matter how the rest of the day has gone, they are there for me, giving their unconditional love.

And my dear friends, I’m thankful for all of you, who take a couple of minutes out of your busy days to stop and read my blog.  I appreciate you.  I appreciate your comments.  I read them all and appreciate the feedback.

I hope everyone had a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.

Kate

November 4, 2011

Friendships

Maybe it’s the weather, that the energy around us is slowing, plants and trees are going dormant, birds are migrating to warmer climates, animals are going into hibernation.  Maybe it’s that the holiday season is quickly approaching and I am thinking about all the people who matter to me.  Maybe it’s that I’m about to hit another monumental number in my years on this planet and it has me looking back on where I’ve been, the journey I’ve taken so far and the path ahead.  Regardless of what the cause is, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately.

It seems that everyone’s lives have gotten so busy, my own included.  There are days, even weeks that pass by that I feel like I’m hanging on by just the tips of my fingers, praying the ride doesn’t go any faster and that my hands don’t get clammy because I don’t think I’ll be able to maintain my grip.  When times are like this, I tend to think about my friends.  I think about how I wish I could talk to them more, see them more, be a better friend.  But at the same time, I know I can only do so much right now and hopefully they know that even though I don’t talk to them as often as I would like, that they still matter to me just as much as the last time I saw them.

I’ve been thinking about what makes a friend a true friend, and what is it that makes someone, well, just not be?

Some of us were born with a keen sense of understanding others.  Sometimes it feels like a blessing, other times a curse.  That sense of understanding or intuition not only allows us to be compassionate and understanding of other people, but also gives us the ability to “see through” others for lack of a better way to put it.  It’s like having a secret decoder in your pocket at all times.  What’s really cool about it is that you can quickly get a sense of what is “going on” with other people and whether a person will be a good fit in your life or… “not so much”.

We’ve all met at least one person in life who only became friends with you because they felt they could “get something” from you.  You get a sense the first time you talk to them that they only have one reason for becoming your friend and guess what?  You’re not it.  I’ve had co-workers and even supervisors who pretended to become “friends” in order to get my input, share my ideas and help on projects, then turn around and take credit for all of it to make themselves look better. Ironically, our friendships faded when the projects were done, but obviously these people weren’t really friends.  And thankfully these people typically aren’t around for the long haul either.  They’re temporary.  They’ll get what they want and move on.  Eventually you’ll be “Un-Friended” on Facebook and the “Link” on LinkedIn will be broken. The good thing is, having that sense or intuition about people can be a true advantage.  It helps you find genuine people and helps you see the people who aren’t so genuine for who they really are. It also makes it kind of entertaining when you see through the others because without them knowing, they showed you their cards at the beginning of the game and you get to sit back and see how they play them.  Once the game is over they’ll cash in their chips, head to another table and never look back.   Thankfully, I’ve only run into a few of these people in my life and only just often enough to remind me how grateful I am for my true friends.

There’s a quote I often think of by Eleanor Roosevelt – “Many people will walk in an out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”   There are so many people who I’ve run across, bumped into, met in passing in my life that I haven’t even been able to remember their names.  There are people who I’ve met, who I would have liked to have gotten to know better but never really gotten the opportunity.  There are the people who I worked with, and become friends with, but once one or the other of us moved on, we’ve lost touch with one another because the only thing we had in common was work.  And then there are the friends that regardless of how often we talk, how long we talk, how infrequently we get together, I know they will always be there.  Those… are my beloved friends.  Those… are the people who have left footprints in my heart.  Those… are the people for whom I will be eternally grateful.

To my true friends,

I love you, appreciate you and you will always have a place in my heart.

Kate