Self Help

Seize the Moment

 

Constantly bombarded by thoughts of our past and tantalized or tortured by visions of a tomorrow that may never come, how is one to ever live in the moment?  I think that one of the most challenging things we can do as aware human beings is to be present, or in other words, to live in the now.  The truth is, that yesterday, no matter how horrible or wonderful, can never be changed or retrieved and since tomorrow is an uncertainty, to dwell in either place is meaningless.

I can attest from my own life, that no matter how well we plan, how pious, true, or good we are, or how things seem to be going in a certain direction, life seems to throw us a curve ball.  People die unexpectedly or get sick, money disappears and the Universe that seemed to be working with us, suddenly changes course. Fear is sure to abound if we choose to look ahead, thinking about all of the possible horrors that await.  By seizing the moment, we are choosing peace instead of fear and the impending result brings us to a healthier state of being.

I am reminded of my favorite children’s book called, The Three Questions, based on a story by Leo Tolstoy and written by Jon J. Muth. In this story, the young boy Nikolai is searching for the way to be his best possible self. He longs for the answers to three questions:

1) What is the best time to do things?

2) Who is the most important one?

3) What is the right thing to do?

After not getting the desired answers from his friends, young Nikolai seeks out the old, wise turtle, named Leo, for the answers to his questions. Nikolai isn’t just told the answer by the turtle, he learns the answers through the happenings that ensue with Leo. At the end of the story, Leo reveals to the young boy the answers to his three questions from the little adventure they have together that involves helping an injured panda. Nikolai surprisingly learns that the most important person isn’t necessarily the most famous, the smartest or even the most beloved. He learns that the most important person is the person we are with at any given point in time and the most important thing is to do good for that person in that very moment. Hence, the best time to do things, is in the moment. Had Nikolai not been present and allowing of his situation, the baby panda would have surely died and Nikolai would not have had the wonderful opportunity to assist another and feel that satisfaction within himself.

Whatever our situation or our pain, living in the now and implementing the answers to these three important questions into our lives, can help catapult us into a place with more joy than we ever could have imagined. When we allow ourselves to be present, not numbed by addictions or thoughts of the past or future, and we take the proper action that the moment beckons, we help ourselves in the deepest way possible. When we do this with a selfless, open heart, we ultimately bring joy to others which inadvertently ripples out into the Universe, creating a healthier, happier world. Carpe diem, my friends, and pass it on.

Health & Fitness, Recipes

Easter Sunrise Biscuits (paleo/gluten-dairy-free)

Why not add grain free delicious biscuits to your Easter brunch this year? They are gentle on the stomach and they taste amazing. I have made them a couple of times this year, so far, and every time they have received rave reviews. Try them and then let me know what you think.

Ingredients
1-1/4 cups almond flour
2 tbs. coconut flour
1 tsp. baking powder–grain free
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. Sweetleaf Stevia Extract Liquid
2 cage-free eggs–large
½ tbsp. coconut milk yogurt—-vanilla flavor
½ tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup raisins

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease small cooking sheet. In a medium bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix well with large wooden spoon. Next, add the wet ingredients and blend well. Lastly, stir in the raisins and form the mixture into four biscuits using your hands. Place on your greased cooking sheet. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool. Enjoy plain, with your favorite non-dairy spread or toast.

Women and Career

Going Back After a Work Sabbatical

Returning to the workforce after an extended absence can be a petrifying experience. Being out of the workforce for a prolonged period of time can lead to rusty skills, few suitable references and lack of confidence in yourself. Whether you have been home for child rearing, the health of yourself or a loved one, inability to find employment, or other reasons, staying home can stall your career path. But there are ways to keep your skills sharp when you are taking a sabbatical. The suggestions offered will also help reduce your anxiety about going back to the work force and increase your waning self-confidence.

Work gaps in resumes scare prospective employers. They don’t care that you are Mother Teresa, or Mrs. Brady, or that you have battled breast cancer for the past four years. They want the most qualified employee and your task is to convince them of that. Volunteer work is one of the least expensive, easiest ways to stay qualified. You can look at volunteer work as helping out society and also free job training; a win-win. The organization needs your help and expertise and you need them to help keep your skills current, learn new things, improve the optics of your resume and obtain work references. The added benefit to volunteering is an increase in your self-confidence, and food for your inner soul, all while helping out an organization that needs and appreciates your assistance.

You can volunteer at a non-profit, a community health center if you have health care experience, a community law office if you have a law background, a community improvement board, church or PTA at your children’s school. When considering volunteer work, find something that you are good at, something that will keep your skills current or relevant, something that you’ve always wanted to learn, or find an organization that you’ve always wanted to help out. Also know that connections that you make while volunteering are vital when you start your job search. Not only may you land a job from your volunteer work at that organization, but you will have a reference to vouch for your character, work ability and work ethic when you start looking for a new job. So, show up when you say you will, set up regular hours, do your best work and have the confidence to stretch your comfort zone.

Volunteer work will also improve your dwindling self-confidence. Unfortunately, when we are away from the work force for a period, we lose our mojo and start to doubt ourselves and our abilities. This outside reinforcement validates your internal value which may help with your positive self-image.

Taking classes of some sort during your work sabbatical is also another way to enrich experiential and emotional areas during this time. You can take local classes at the community college, or high school and of course, online. Some people may be concerned about staying current with technology, however, this is not as daunting as it was in the past. Today there are many resources available online to help you identify what employers are seeking from a technology skill set. Unless you are looking to become a coder, the reality is, technology that is used in a professional setting changes much slower than the media may lead you to think, so don’t become overwhelmed with this concern. If you feel the world has somehow left you behind on the technology landscape, I have included some of my personal online favorite sources to help you update your skill level and remain ‘buzzword compliant’ when speaking to recruiters or hiring managers.

GCF Learn Free is a free site that offers basic content for technology, social media and some other areas.

GCF Learn Free –  http://www.gcflearnfree.org/popular

Coursera offers top university courses for free.

Coursera – https://www.coursera.org

Udemy is my new favorite training site that offers over 25,000 courses by trained experts. Offering nearly everything under the sun, from complex new technologies, to social medial to yoga, Udemy is truly a great resource for learning just about anything. Although some courses are free, most range from $10 and up. Be on the look-out for frequent specials.

Udemy –  https://www.udemy.com

TED Talks has an enormous reservoir of inspiring and intellectually challenging 20 minute presentations given by thought leaders from a vast array of disciplines ranging from leading edge business thinking to neuroscience breakthroughs that are changing how we create new products and solve some of world’s most pressing challenges. I personally love TED Talks because not only will you gain insights on many different subjects that you can incorporate into your everyday life, but you may find tidbits of information that could be useful when interviewing with hiring managers.

TED Talks – https://www.TedTalks.com

 

Don’t underestimate the value that you received for yourself and others while you were on work sabbatical. Taking time off to support a family or yourself, in more personal ways, should only be viewed as an asset and not a liability. Your task is to communicate this to prospective employees in a way that resonates with them. Discuss the challenges you faced while on your sojourn and how you dealt with them; translate them into how adaptable, organized and vigilant you are. Most intelligent employers only care how you can move the needle of their institution/organization forward in the future, so tying your personal experiences to the challenges they are seeking to overcome will all but eliminate any concern they may have about your ‘gap in employment history.’

Of course there may be people who will discourage you or make you feel that your time wasn’t useful, but buying into this thought process will do nothing positive for you. If you can look at your experience as a fruitful, beneficial time and translate that accurately to prospective employers, you will be on your way to landing a terrific job with an organization that values the ‘collection of all that you are’ and looks to you as a positive contributor to their collective future.

Health & Fitness

Why Is My Stomach Killing Me?

 

Lying on the bathroom floor writhing in pain is a memory from my childhood I will always remember.  Unfortunately, it was a common occurrence for me before school on many days.  As I got older, I learned to deal with the pain, but it never went away.   During my teens and twenties I often had to forgo a cute, form-fitting outfit due to a belly so bloated that I looked six months pregnant.  I saw several doctors and went through a series of medical testing where at 24 I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.

Regrettably, there was no treatment at that time for IBS and I continued to suffer. I remember having a very basic and bland diet in my twenties and noshing the same type of food all of the time. This seemed to work for me–no processed food and only meat and vegies cooked in olive oil. Whenever I would eat at a friend’s house, go out to dinner, travel or celebrate holidays, the bloating and other symptoms all would come back.  In my thirties, I moved away from my bland diet, thanks to my husband who liked to cook and also cooked very differently from the way I normally ate. The stomach pain began to be more consistent once again and I remember going to see an internist to find out what was going on. I was shocked, humiliated, and angry when he told me that I needed to see a psychiatrist, after I sat in his office and talked to him for an hour. He didn’t even examine me!  I’m not sure there is a worse feeling in the world than knowing something is wrong with you and not having “the expert” believe you. So back home I went to suffer for another five years, until my condition worsened. By the time I had reached my forties, the stomach pain had morphed into symptoms other than solely stomach complaints. I now had severe joint and muscle pain, brain fog, memory issues, depression, major fatigue, horizontal ridges in my thumb nails and frequent unexplained illness that would put me in bed for 3-4 days at a time. Continue Reading

Buddhism, Health & Fitness

Mindful Eating

064-SHAUNA-FOOD-5940

 

This week I have a guest article written by Shauna Keeler. Shauna is a Holistic Culinary Nutritionist and Registered Yoga Instructor with her Master’s in Nutrition Science and professional chef’s training in health supportive cooking from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City. Her expertise lies in plant-based and vegan cooking for health as well as helping others to incorporate mindfulness and nutritious foods into their kitchen. Shauna teaches the art of vegan cooking, offers nutritional counseling and enjoys working as a private chef. She lives in Brooklyn, NY where she can be found hosting vegan dinner parties and checking out the yoga scene. 

 

Last summer, I was fortunate to spend time studying at a Zen Buddhist monastery in the Catskills. The experience was filled with reflection, exhaustion, frustration and, eventually, profound joy as we spent hours each day in meditation, engaging in “samu” or work practice and soaking in the beautiful scenery created by the lake and the mountains.

As a nutritionist, I love learning about others’ eating habits, and I was downright fascinated by the relationship to food the monastery residents exhibited. Upon my first meal, I was struck by the awareness with which food is consumed. Formal meals are a ritualistic process that took me a few days to get comfortable with—serving yourself, passing the tea water, cleaning your bowls and even setting your chopsticks to the side were all part of a choreographed ritual.  Although kneeling on the floor and being completely silent while eating didn’t stick, the attitude with which meals were approached is something I try to keep as part of my daily life away from the monastery.

Prior to each meal, we touched our palms together in front of our hearts and chanted a short reflection in unison, which I included below. I found this reflection meaningful on a variety of levels and have been eager to share it.

Continue Reading