spirituality

Three steps to make a dream come true

The title of this blogpost was not click bait. I am dead serious. I actually DO have three steps that can help you make a dream come true. Notice that I did not say three "EASY" steps. But they are steps nonetheless. I'm no Zig Ziegler but I have experienced some "dream-come-true" moments in my life and I would love to share how I got there with you. I took these steps. You can take them, too. And you can see your dream(s) become a reality. Ready? Then, read on!

  1. Dream. Step one, you actually need to dream. What do you want, personally, professionally? What do you envision for yourself, your family, your community, the world? Take the dream as far as you want. The Bible says "Without vision, the people perish." I know some people that are indeed the "walking dead." They look like people; they go through the motions of life, but they are like zombies, because they are dead on the inside. Part of the reason why is because they no longer dream. IMG_6220 I made this dream board the other day, to help me picture the kind of life I want to lead, the kind of impact I want to make. Write down your dreams, or illustrate them. Find a way to visualize them, however it best suits you. Something special happens when you make the intangible tangible. For example, I wrote down "Kenya 2015" in a journal a few years back. I didn't know how I would get there; I just knew that I wanted to go. I was dreaming. And then it happened! The Weston A. Price Foundation sent me there to tell people about traditional diets in August of last year. I never expected this turn of events when I scribbled "Kenya 2015" down. But it came to be.
  2. Deem. You need to regard what you want as attainable. Deem it so, or deem it possible. George Michael sang "You gotta have faith." It's about believing it can happen or that you can do it. I know of a cancer treatment clinic that will not accept patients who do not believe the treatment will work. Sound crazy? They simply recognize that belief is a part of the healing process. In the same way, belief plays a pivotal role in realizing your dream. Believe in God. Believe in yourself. Believe it can happen...yes, in your wildest dreams. I was considering becoming a podcaster when a 16 year-old friend of mine told me he was starting a podcast. I literally thought, "If he can do it, I can do it." I believed. I bought equipment and read some books. I began interviewing people. In a span of less than 6 months, I launched it and now my podcast has had over 50,000 downloads. (My 16 year-old friend never followed through on his podcast.)
  3. Do. The first two are wonderful but are not enough to achieve your dream. (Maybe this is why my young friend's podcast never launched?) This last step is a critical piece of the puzzle. You can't just dream or believe without putting in the hard work. This is why I didn't have the word "easy" in my title. You have to DO something. You need to set tangible, measurable goals and implement them to reach your dreams. I have been saying for years that I want to write a book. This is a dream in progress. On the plus side, I am meeting my goal of writing regularly. I have done so for over 6 years now. But other mid-range goals have fallen by the way side. It's time to pick them up again. Otherwise the epitaph on my tombstone may read: "She was going to write a book...one day." I do not want REFUSE to let that be the case. So I have recently found a friend who is going to hold me accountable (read: kick my butt and make sure I take tangible steps) to get at least an e-book completed this. calendar. year. Yes, I am putting it out there. You read it here first.

Some dreams I've dreamed have turned into reality; some are still in process. To achieve them, as you can see, does not require magic or charisma. It's not about manifesting something or tapping into some big dark secret only available to those "in tune with the universe."

It's about dreaming, deeming, and doing. Tell me what are you dreams? Take the first step in making them tangible and write them in the comments below!

 

How "The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up" applies to Lent

By now, you've certainly heard of Marie Kondo's bestseller "The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up." It touts the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. Kondo encourages readers to hold on to what brings joy and release what does not. This book has sold over one million copies in the U.S. Clearly, it's touched a nerve. We have too much stuff and we know it. We want to pare down and streamline our living space and our lives. We want joy. Lent is a time for de-cluttering, too, but for the soul. We need to strip away the excess activity or whatever it is that distances us from God, our joy. We sift through our busyness and make time for stillness and sacrifice. It's a time to re-focus on what matters.

To be honest with you, both my heart and  my house need some tidying up.

Regarding my heart, I want to release worries and concerns (verbalized or internalized), my own pride and sin, prayer-lessness, and more. In terms of my home, there are  knick knacks on my dresser, unworn clothes in my closet, and random personal effects that need to be let go.

In Luke 10, Jesus sent his disciples out to share the message of love and healing. He charged them: "Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road." Traveling light was key to their focus and purpose (and probably peace and joy, as well). 

So, I'm in. I want to travel light, to be more focused on my faith, the people around me, and joy. I want to lessen the physical clutter around me and the spiritual/emotional clutter within me. So every day for the next 40 days, I am letting things go. They may be physical, as below.

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They may be emotional. Yesterday, I gave away a worry about a family member. The game will be sold at a thrift store. It's out of the house, for good. The worry, not so much. I just might accidentally pick it back up again. But I'm taking it day by day. At least for one day--yesterday--I let it go. When my concern came to mind, I released it to God, by faith. I laid it at His feet, for Him to take care of, instead of me. (He's better at such things, by and large.)

What are you doing to mark the period of Lent? Are you eager to streamline your life, to hold onto what brings you joy and release what does not? Join me!

 

What nourishment can do in a world of terror, mass shootings, and suicide

With the latest headlines coursing through my mind, how could I possibly continue to merrily write posts about food and farmers and health? Am I just sticking my head in the sand (or in the fridge) when I write about such things, when chaos abounds in our world right now? I know of a young 16 year-old in Maryland who recently took her own life. There were mass shootings this past week in Georgia and California. And, in Paris, Nigeria, and too many countries to count, people are reeling from recent terrorist attacks. Many respond to the sadness and turmoil by calling for legislative change and stricter gun control laws, advocating for help for the mentally ill, and reaching out with thoughts and prayers. All of these reactions are fitting and appropriate (despite blog posts to the contrary). But how does nutrition fit into this scene? Is a health blog relevant at all? Is it simply entertainment? What part can nourishment play in this world of terror, mass shootings and suicide?

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I submit that it is part of the solution, not a sidebar, not a pleasant indulgent distraction nor a pie-in-the-sky hope.  I see promoting nourishment as a critical preventative piece of the puzzle.

When we are truly nourished, I mean, all the way deep down to our bones, we are content, satisfied, tranquil, peaceful. We can respond to aggravations and irritations around us with equanimity. We are less likely to be flustered, worried, anxious, and unhappy.

Notice that I said "less likely." Of course, I'm not suggesting that we will never be disgruntled or worried; I'm simply saying that true nourishment brings us a settled, grounded feeling most of the time. Think about the term "hangry." It comes from that irritated, agitated state that leads us to react poorly when we've gone too long between meals. You've been there. I've been there. We lash out at the slightest provocation; we feel "off" and on edge.

Now imagine a person feeling that way most of the time. (I'm not talking about the hungry in developing countries right now. Clearly, they are underfed and often malnourished, simply hungry and not "hangry." It is important to look for ways to make sure they are nourished, of course.) Right now, today, I'm addressing those here in the U.S., who are overfed and undernourished.

The person who is undernourished, is chronically "hangry," i.e. irritable, volatile, and more likely to be aggressive and dangerous. I'm not making this up. I heard an NPR program about a school in inner city Chicago that had major behavioral and discipline problems. They changed nothing but the food available at lunch time and behavioral issues diminished significantly.

Certainly nutrient-dense food can change our mood and disposition. But what about the person who is mentally unstable or depressed--can it help them, too? Studies have shown that a changed diet can be as effective as medication, if not more so. And, of course, nourishment of the spirit is as critical as nourishment for the body. Sharing a meal around a table meets our deepest needs for community and connection. Seeking help and hope from faith and friends goes far in giving us a sense of purpose and contentment.

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All this to say, we must pay attention not only to what is happening "out there" but to what is happening "in here," inside ourselves. How are we being nourished on the deepest levels? Are we being nourished on the deepest levels?

With all of the insanity swirling around us, let us not discount the role of nourishment--physical and spiritual--in addressing this world's turmoil, and our very own. The fix may be much closer to home than we realize. It may even be as close as our kitchen table.

 

 

Guilt be gone! (Why self care is not selfish.)

Raise your hand if you have felt guilty when you've chosen to read a book (or binge on a t.v. series) instead of folding laundry. Or when you opted to meet a friend for coffee, instead of completing a certain project for work. Or when you blew off a PTA meeting to grab dinner with your spouse or good friend. Now that all our hands are raised, let me just say, it's okay. Wait, no. It's MORE than okay. It probably was just what you needed! Too often in life, when we take a break, we feel like we should be doing something else. But I like what author and theologian Henri Nouwen has to say on the subject: "Don't should on yourself!"

It is perfectly legitimate, and, yes, even often absolutely necessary to leave some things undone so that you can do something that restores you. Whatever it is that "fills your bucket" or replenishes your stores, do it! Even if it's just for one evening, or for a mid-day break, you will find that the mini-vaycay can work wonders on your state of mind and heart. It's like water to a parched soul, oxygen to an astronaut. (I guess I still have the movie "Martian" on my mind!)

This could be you!

Seriously, though, as a health coach, I see people overlook this aspect of health all. the. time. You can eat as "clean" as Gwenyth Paltrow, but you will still be unwell if you stress yourself out through over-work and under-self. When you keep going and going and going, it's as if your body is in constant fight-or-flight mode. You will literally wear your adrenal glands out and no amount of caffeine can bring you back to life. When you get to that point of exhaustion, (and let's face it, we all do from time to time), you are no good to anybody, least of all yourself. Literally. You are not being good to yourself or anyone else in your life.

Parker Palmer, author of "Let your life speak," has this to say about taking care of ourselves:

“I have become clear about at least one thing: that self-care is never a selfish act, but it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on the earth to offer others.”

Parker is saying (and I am well aware that I am making him sound like he's my best friend, but, hey, he has made a difference in my life, and I do feel close to him, so...), yes, Parker is saying that the only way to care for those around us, is for us to be in some, decent kind of shape to do so. I don't mean physical shape. I mean emotional and spiritual shape.

Back when I worked for Naval Intelligence, a colleague of mine made a remark about my attitude, one day. I told him that I hadn't really been consistent in my devotional life in those recent weeks. His off-hand response? "Yeah, I can tell." My self-care, time for centering prayer and grounding Scripture at the start of the day, had fallen by the wayside. Apparently, it was making me stressed out and negative and impacting everyone around me, in ways I had failed to notice (but that others had.)

So, my advice? Get thee to a pumpkin patch! Get outside. Enjoy fall! Blow off the laundry and the mopping! Delegate the work project (if your boss lets you)! Find something that fills you up, replenishes, and restores. And if anyone questions what you're doing, tell them that you're doing something sustainable and replenishing for the good of others...and yourself!

Me, outside, a couple of years ago! I better get out there again!

Four health tips...from the Pope!

pope_francis_072813Did you get swept up by the hope, peace, and love that the Pope's visit generated in the U.S.? Or did you just see it as a lot of hype? Whatever your stance, I can tell you this. Most people expect to learn about faith from the Pope, but I think we can learn about wellness from him, too. For starters, did you know that he is 78 years old? What stamina and enthusiasm he has at that age, no?! I would love to be so vibrant and enthusiastic in my late 70's.

Here are four health tips that I gleaned from the Pope: What on earth are we doing...to the earth?   For a long time, all I cared about was good food. I wanted to eat well for my own health, and the health of my family. I got into health coaching because I wanted to communicate the importance of good nutrition to everyone. I didn't understand or care where my food came from. And then it dawned on me (not so much a slow realization as a frying pan across the back of my head, I must say): good food MUST come from good soil. In other words, the quality of all food is inextricably tied to the wellness of the soil from which it springs!

Now I am learning all about the benefits of permaculture, rotational grazing, and other ways of farming soil and raising animals, that cooperates with nature, rather than trying to dominate it and force it (via chemical and technological means) to yield unnatural quantities or foodstuffs. For too long, we in the U.S. have focused on money as the bottom line, to the detriment of the land we are tilling and the animals we are raising. The Pope puts it this way: "When nature is viewed solely as a source of profit and gain, this has serious consequences for society."

It's not just how we farm the land, but how we treat the whole earth that is troubling. It's as if a friend lent us his car and we started racing around the city, driving recklessly, parking carelessly, oblivious to the consequences. The car gets banged up and so do we. We are disrespecting our friend, and it is clearly dangerous for us and the vehicle. Here's another way to look at it. "A great challenge: stop ruining the garden which God entrusted to us so that all may enjoy it."

It's about how we relate, not just what's on our plate.  "Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change." Have you ever been so mad at someone that you were unable to eat? Has a fight or disagreement with a friend or coworker ever caused your stomach to hurt? Yes, our digestion is tied to more than just our stomach acid levels. How we relate to those around us has a tremendous impact on our health (and theirs, of course).

But we cannot change their behavior. So our only recourse is to ask God for help to change our own. Ask him to give you perspective, to see each person through God's eyes. They are also "imago dei" (made in God's image) and worthy of your respect and empathy, even if you disagree. If you hold onto unforgiveness, you may think you are hurting them, when in reality you are only hurting yourself. Unforgiveness is a poison to your system, corroding your inner life, and, yes, your physical body as well. We can't conjure up forgiveness on our own, however. We need a supernatural source. "When we experience the merciful love of the Father, we are more able to share this joy with our neighbor."

Go to the Source.  We can only give what we have been given. When we need faith, hope, peace, or love, we can't just will it into existence. We must reach for something higher.

What if you have no faith? Seek it. Faith is moving forward without immediate, visible evidence. Take steps of faith as you move forward---like attending church, reading the Bible. God says  "Seek me and you will find me, if you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 33:3 And do not be discouraged on the way. Remember that the faith life is a journey. “There are dark days, even days when we fail, even days when we fall … but always think of this: Don't be afraid of failures. Don't be afraid of falling. What matters in the art of journeying isn't not falling but not staying down. Get up right away and continue going forward. This is what's beautiful: This is working every day, this is journeying as humans."

Be honest. Be humble. When we think we've got a corner on a certain diet, career, or experience, we can all become self-righteous and Trump-like. The key is to remember that we are not God. It's okay to admit that we are small, deeply flawed, and often limited. In the midst of this truth, we are loved and beautiful, still. "God loves the lowly. When we live humbly, he takes our small efforts and creates great things."

Does the Pope inspire you, too? Have you learned anything about life and health from him? Post your comments below.

Oh, and one final footnote: I got so inspired by the pontiff's visit that I decided to follow him on Twitter. I got the suggestion from Twitter" "You might want to follow these similar accounts." It then listed President Obama, the Dalai Lama, and Ellen DeGeneres. Hmmm.