Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My New Mantra

"If you can dream it, you can do it. Your limits are all within yourself." -Brian Tracy

That's my new mantra. The only thing holding me back is myself. This also fits in nicely with my tarot card pull for the day - the Four of Swords.

Some of the advice given for this card is to ground and re-charge yourself. Look inward for a real change. Meditate daily.


I am happy with my food choices on this quest. My exercise sometimes gets pushed aside because of weather or errands. I really need to find some exercise dvds I like so I will be motivated to do them at home on those problem days.

This cold weather brings it's own set of issues. Fighting off illness! I'm keeping healthy, but my college finals coping daughter is trying to keep a cold at bay. I brewed her my famous garlic/lemon/honey tea. My family swears by it!

This Tea Busts Colds!
Why the "Spanish cure" really works
By Laura Goldstein , Laura Goldstein is a contributing editor to Prevention.

Many people of Latino or Spanish heritage will tell you that when you have a cold, no other cure works as well as a tea made of garlic, lemon, and honey.

"Make no mistake: If you come down with a cough or cold in Spain or Latin America, your host will likely serve up a pile of garlic and a hot cup of lemon honey tea," says Prevention's clinical herbal advisor, Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, MNIMH, who was served garlic, lemon, and honey tea when he caught a cold in the mountains of northern Spain. "The combination worked quickly, but it was a bit rough going down." Dubbed the "Spanish cure," this cough-inhibiting decoction may help ease colds three ways.

Garlic - The same oils that give garlic its unmistakable scent are deposited by the bloodstream into the respiratory tract. There, they inhibit cough and cold microbes, and they are effective decongestants.

Honey - While there's little research on the subject, many cultures believe that honey is a respiratory tonic, gently improving breathing. Honey is known to be antimicrobial, and it helps the immune system fight infection.

Lemon - According to Schar, "Lemon juice reduces and thins mucus, which makes it easier to unclog a stuffed-up respiratory system." Lemon juice also alters the body's pH, potentially making it less hospitable to viruses and bacteria.

Garlic Tea Recipe - In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups of water and 3 cloves of garlic (cut in half) to a boil. Turn off the heat when the water boils, and add 1/2 cup of honey and 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice. Strain. Sip 1/2 cup, warm, three times a day. Refrigerate extra to use the next day.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment

Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is Enlightenment.
Lao Tzu

Whew! Pretty intense yoga workout today. I use these cards I bought, The Yoga Deck and The Yoga Deck 2. You design your own workout, so I start with the warmup, the workout and end each with a breathing exercise and a meditation. Each day is different, so I never get bored. This particular meditation, though, I found enlightening.

Spirit Meditation

Sit quietly with your eyes closed. Let your breath be slow and relaxed.
Visualize the lower half of your body as warm, moist, vital soil.
Picture a beautiful white lotus flower blossoming in the upper half of your body.
Breathe into its essence and repeat several times:
I am willing to embody my spirit
Gaze deeply into the lotus blossom that is the embodiment of your spirit. What truths do you see? What message does your spirit have for you today?

Inside the lotus blossom I saw a swirling fire, like magma. I watched the beautiful colors, red, yellow, orange, wondering what this meant. Then white shapes, misty, ghostlike, began swooping upward, graceful. I watched them in amazement, again wondering what they were. As I lifted my eyes upward to watch their ascent, I glimpsed a night sky brimming with bright stars. I watched in awe at the beauty of it all, realizing only then what my spirit was trying to tell me: that I am much, much more than this body, that I am a part of something grander. I am a part of the universe. I found this quote and it summed up my experience nicely:
I Am One With Spirit and All Creation - I give thanks for the unity of all creation and for everything that has brought me to this moment. I release my entire being to the gentle nurture of Spirit.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

In keeping with my practice of NEAT, I am honoring the Goddess of the day by wiping down my counters and mopping my kitchen floor with an infusion of sage, then traveling room to room ringing a bell to keep sickness away. This brought a giggle because my cats all stared at me like I was crazy, yet followed me to each room to see if I would do anything different.

Pan-American Health Day (United States)

Themes: Health; Cooperation; Dreams; Magick; Meditation.
Symbols: Lions; Fish; Serpent (her sacred animals)

About Nina: A very ancient Mother Goddess figure in Mesopotamia, Nina has many powers, including healing, herb magick, meditation, dream interpretation, and helping civilization along when needed. Today we will be focusing on her healthful attributes and knowledge of herbs to improve well-being for the winter months.

To Do Today: Pan-American Health Day focuses on worldwide cooperation in the public heath field. On the home front, do everything possible to make your home and body healthy and strong. Beginning in your living space, wash the floors using sage water, and burn a sage smudge stick. This herb decreases germ infestation and is magickally aligned with Nina's energy. As you go through your home, carry a small bell and add this incantation:

Nina, come and make us well;
banish sickness with the ringing of this bell.

Ring the bell in each room at the end of the incantation. In many religious traditions, bells are considered to scare away the evil influences that cause sickness.

To overcome a troublesome malady, put a picture of one of Nina's sacred animals under your pillow to invoke a healing dream. This tradition is very old and sometimes results in healthful energy being conveyed through your dream, or in a dream that shows you what to do for a cure.
By Patricia Telesco ~ From "365 Goddess"

I find it interesting that today's theme includes cooperation. My daily tarot card pull for today is Two of Cups, which also suggests cooperation. Add to all of this that tonight is a Full Moon in Gemini! Being a Gemini, this is particularly auspicious for me. This Full Moon is in Gemini, the sign of communication, changeability, short trips, and anything of a mercurial nature, and Mercury, the planet of communication and the mind that is the ruler of Gemini, is very active in the chart of this Full Moon.

A good dish to serve tonight is:

Eggplant Pomodoro

1 eggplant (sliced into 1/2 inch rounds)
3 roma tomatoes, diced
10-15 chopped basil leaves, fresh
1 cup vegan/soy mayonnaise (must have some fat in it)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard (regular mustard may be substituted)
1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs (no parmesan cheese)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine mayonnaise and mustard in a bowl until well blended. Coat each slice of eggplant with the mayo/mustard mixture and second-coat each slice with breadcrumbs. Arrange coated eggplant slices on foil covered cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes.
While eggplant is baking, saute diced tomatoes and basil in olive oil until well-heated, and set aside.
Serve baked eggplant with a generous portion of tomato mixture. Enjoy!
Serves: 4

Walked for 30 minutes with hubby, did five weight lifting exercises with dumbbells, 2 yoga sessions, 60 crunches.

Two slices cinnamon toast for breakfast, rice and beans and peach slices for lunch. Would have made eggplant for supper, but son made supper, instead! Spaghetti and quorn meatballs and slices of French bread.

Later tonight I will draw down the moon, then watch a movie with hubby and gnosh on unsalted pretzels.

Drawing Down the Moon

Lady moon, Lady moon, where are you roving?
a children's song

The act of drawing down the moon is a powerful psychic and magical experience.
By focusing on the light of the full moon, you are actually drawing its energy into your own body. Realize that lunar energy is intuitive, magnetic and receptive. This is a force of nature, and tapping into this power is a transformative experience. This type of empowerment needs to be felt, and it’s going to be different for each individual.

I have heard this process explained and intellectualized to death, but the truth is this is a silent ritual. it requires no tools or props other than yourself and the full moon. Learning to draw down the moon is an intuitive and personal experience that marks a significant step of a witch’s journey, for you learn to make your magic both intuitive and personal.

No words are needed while you drawn down the moon. If you’d like to say a few words in greeting before you get started, go right ahead. Seems to me that a simple and heartfelt greeting is much more eloquent than fumbling around trying desperately to remember some lengthy, dramatic memorized poem. This does not require melodrama. Just be yourself, and follow your own insights. The following steps of the process are straightforward ones, and simple is usually the best.

. Step outside and stand under the light of the full moon. You do have to go outside for this one, folks.

. Imagine your feet are like roots of a tree, and sink them down into the earth. Visualize that any stress or anger you may be carrying is draining away to be absorbed back harmlessly into the earth. Now see that the earth is in turn sending you revitalizing energy. Raise up your arms, and stretch your fingers. Take a nice deep cleansing breath and blow it out slowly.

. Next, you may stand with your hands loosely at your sides, holding your hands palms up. I have seen people dramatically throw their arms out wide and embrace the sky. Go with whatever position feels more natural to you. If you are concerned that someone, maybe a curious neighbor maybe be watching, then just keep your arms down and stand in a relaxed pose.

. Then open yourself up to that energy, lighting up those seven chakras.

. Tip up your face to the light of the moon, and envision pulling some of that luminosity and power down and inside yourself. Give yourself a few moments and feel the difference it makes. For example, if you feel down and self conscious, you will likely stan taller and be more confident after drawing down the moon. If you feel overwhelmed and stressed out, you’ll notice that your shouders will relax and you will feel more at peace when you are finished. You may feel a shivery and tingling connection with other witches from all over the world. or you may feel a comforting warmth surrounding you, like an astral hug, telling you are not alone. Enjoy the sensation for a while.

. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Now zip your chakras closed with a quick arm motion from your mid tight area to over the top of your head. Relax.

. Whisper a “thank you”, feel grateful and return indoors

Write down in your journal what you experienced. Try it with different full moons or even different lunar phases, at different hours. Then compare your notes.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's a hot cuppa kind of day!

Spent the early afternoon with hubby attending a lecture put on by the Master Gardeners. The subject was cacti, agaves and succulents, and since I have a garden in my front yard comprised of these very things, I really wanted to hear it. It got me to thinking about the benefits of aloe vera. I've never used mine except as something lovely to grow in my garden, I thought I'd see what I could find. Did find this little tidbit:

Use aloe vera gel to treat the areas of the scalp that are going bald. Aloe vera contains an enzyme that helps promote new hair growth for some people. The gel can be applied directly to the scalp, as aloe vera typically has no side effects. Make an aloe vera shampoo. When combined with wheat germ oil and coconut milk, aloe vera gel makes a shampoo to promote hair growth. Use the shampoo as often as you wash your hair.

Huh. Who'da thunk it?

But how to actually go about it?

How To Cut A Leaf

Remove the leaf from the plant with a sharp knife.
Trim the thorny edges from the severed leaf, then slice the leaf across its width. The inner transparent, gooey gel is ready to be applied directly to the afflicted area. Use generously, it will be absorbed by the skin within several minutes.
After the gel from the first layer of ruptured cells has run dry, scratch the surface with a clean knife to rupture more cells, releasing more juice. This can be continued until there is nothing but green skin left.

How Long Will A Leaf Last

Wrap partially used leaves in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate, it will last for days.

Consuming The Plant Directly

The colorless pulp is tasteless, but first rinse off the bitter yellow sap. Peel the green skin from the pulp, then rinse off the sap with cool water.

How To Treat A Wound With Aloe

Clean wound thoroughly
Apply Aloe Vera pulp in the wound
Wrap tightly with a bandage
Keep bandage soaked in Aloe Vera juice
The wound should quickly heal with little or no scarring, bandages will remove easily. There is also a much reduced risk of infection when using Aloe.

For minor scar removal, keep applying Aloe Vera juice morning and night (daily). This may take several months to see great results (six months or so).

For painful scrapes and abrasions, gently slide a split leaf over the area and reapply several times during the next 24 hours.

Burns & Sunburns

Good for soothing and healing burns and sunburns, simply apply juice from an aloe leaf directly to burned area. See also Sunburn Relief Home Remedies. Especially handy in the home for kitchen burns!

Home Remedy For Digestive Problems

Three times daily take 1 to 2 TBS of aloe juice/gel. This will act like a general tonic and mild regulator of the bowels.

Sap Extraction For Bowel Regulation

The sap is a yellow bitter fluid that flows between the skin and the pulp of the Aloe and acts as a laxative.

Place green peelings of an aloe leaf in a jar of water and refrigerate. The more leaves in the jar, the stronger the tonic will be.
Take a few sips once or twice a week to help regulate your bowels. Top up the jar with fresh aloe leaves as needed.

Scalp & Hair Treatments

Aloe juice can add lustre, richness and manageability to hair as well as heal some scalp abrasions and diseases:

Before bedtime wet hair thoroughly with aloe vera juice and allow to dry. Rinse thoroughly in the morning (may suds up a bit).

Poison Ivy, Poison Oak & Allergies

Use Aloe Vera as a pain inhibitor and reduce itchiness, also enhances healing of rashes and sores:

For relief apply aloe vera juice directly to area that is irritated.

Pregnancy Stretch Marks

Apply Aloe Vera juice directly to skin while pregnant, after birth keep applying to encourage healing.

Insect Bites, Jellyfish Stings, Etc.

Bees, mosquitoes, ants, wasps, yellow jackets, scorpions, centipedes and other insects

As soon as the bite or sting occurs, split open a leaf and apply it directly to the bite area.

Arthritis Treatments

Dice up Aloe Vera leaves and place pieces in a jar of water, refrigerate. Drink 4 Tablespoons per day and top up water in the jar as consumed. The drink can be bitter but it does go away over time. Some may find relief right away, many don’t find relief until a couple months later. Make a fresh jar of leaves as needed.
For aching joints and muscles, rub Aloe Vera on the skin, relief should be felt within a few minutes and can be repeated as necessary.

Age Skin Spots

Apply Aloe Vera juice to the spots twice a day, spots will be reduced or completely removed after several months of treatment.

Acne Treatments

Give your skin a good cleansing morning and night. Apply juice directly from the leaf. Can also apply to pimples and other sores.
For removing old acne scars, apply a little Aloe Vera juice morning and night until the scars are gone. This can take several months. If skin is dry, apply with a moisturizing cream.


Boil Aloe Vera leaves in a pan of water and breathe in the vapor.

How To Tell If You’re Allergic To Aloe Vera

Before applying any first aid treatments, find out if you have an allergy to it first. If you’re allergic to aloe vera, you may experience the results opposite to what you were hoping for. Here’s how you can quickly find out if you’re allergic to aloe vera:

Apply a small amount of aloe vera juice on the inside of your arm or behind your ears. If a rash appears or you experience a stinging sensation within a few minutes, do not use aloe vera for first aid.

Did You Know:

After removing an aloe leaf to treat a burn or cut, you can refrigerate it and it will keep for 2 to 3 weeks.
Aloe Vera is an astringent and may cause skin to dry. You can apply baby oil or other lubricant along with the aloe to help prevent dryness.
What leaf is best to use in first aid treatments? The lowest leaves (closest to the ground) should be used first. These leaves are older and larger so they have more juice and greater potency.

Caution For Diabetics:

Drinking Aloe Vera juice might enable the pancreas to produce more of its own insulin. Before taking aloe vera internally, diabetics should have their physician monitor their need for extra insulin since too much is dangerous.

So now I'll have to try some of these and see what happens.

As for food today, not too bad.
Veggie burger without the bread (not because I have an Adkins fetish, but because it was white and not whole wheat - why eat cardboard if I don't have to?), lettuce and tomato. 1/2 c. potato salad.
Got hungry while we were out, so picked up some Palak Paneer.
Supper was tacos - cilanto lime rice, black beans, avocado slices, tomato slices. Our version of Chipotle.
Apple for a snack.

Cilantro Lime Rice

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
zest from one lime
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
green onions, chopped

Add the oil, garlic, rice, lime juice and water to a pot and bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low for 25 minutes.
When the rice is done, add lime zest, chopped cilantro and chopped green onions and stir to mix in. Serve immediately.

It was raining when we got home, so didn't get to go for a walk, but did get in three short yoga sessions and my crunches. Because I couldn't go for a regular walk, I did try to use NEAT in my favor, by keeping active in everything I did, not just sitting still for any extended periods of time.

Now I am going to go savor a nice hot cuppa and do some cross stitch.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life

I have decided that today will be the first day of the rest of my life. I need to stop stalling and taking those steps I keep planning to, so today seems like a good day to do just that. This is my blog of my journey toward health and wholeness.

In an attempt to lose weight, lower my triglycerides and blood pressure, I am following the DASH diet, one I have tweaked for my veganism.

I started it by eating a peanut butter sandwich and a handful of chips, a serving of peaches with 1/2 t. of cinnamon sprinkled on top. 24 oz. of water and a cup of chai white tea. Supper is Mixed Onion Soup with mixed vegetables and French bread. No time for snacks today what with schedules, but I did munch on a small handful of raw cashews.

I love tea, and try to drink it often during the day, either hot or iced. Since today it was a white tea, I thought I would share some information about the health benefits of white tea. A 2004 study at Pace University concluded that white tea can help your body’s immune system fight off viruses and dangerous infection-causing bacteria. The same study concluded that fluoride-rich white tea helps prevent the growth of dental plaque, the chief cause of tooth decay.
There are many studies that have shown that tea, including white tea, can help to slightly thin the blood and keep your arteries in healthy shape. By thinning the blood, it can help lower blood pressure to safe levels, and promote healthy and free flowing blood vessels that can't get clogged as easily, thus reducing the chance of stroke and heart attack. By thinning your blood, lowering your bad cholesterol levels, promoting healthy arteries and preventing them from hardening, as well as reducing blood pressure, white tea can help protect your heart and prevent heart attack, as well as promote a healthy circulatory system throughout your body. Scientific researchers have noticed that people whom consume 2 or more of a quality white tea per day are more than 50% less likely to suffer from a deadly heart attack. White tea is extremely helpful within your body! White tea has even more benefits for your body and overall health! It can help to reduce high blood sugar, and thus help prevent or reduce the symptoms of diabetes. White tea will also reduce the workload on your body by giving a helping hand, thus improving your energy and reducing stress.

Exercise is critical, at least for me. I did 60 crunches and 20 minutes of yoga. Walked 32 minutes and 7 minutes of eye exercises. Lifted weights (dumbbells) and did 12 more minutes of yoga.

To kickstart my spiritual yearnings, I pulled the Page of Cups card from my Housewives Tarot deck. The Page of Cups advises nurturing relationships, so I will focus on being positive for my family. Because today honors Aine, for supper I am making a Mixed Onion Soup.

Mixed Onion Soup

Olive oil
2 1/2 cups chopped white onions
2 1/2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 3 medium)
2 1/2 cups chopped red onions
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups dry red wine
7 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
cashew cream*

Add olive oil to heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add white onions, leeks, red onions, garlic and shallot to pot. Cook until vegetables are dark brown, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes. Add flour and stir 1 minute. Gradually mix in wine. Boil mixture until very thick, scraping up browned bits, about 5 minutes. Gradually mix in stock; add thyme and rosemary and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes. Add cream; simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
*Cashew Cream - 1/2 c. raw cashews and 1 c. water - run through food processor.

Goddess of The Day - AINE

Zibelemarit (Switzerland)

Themes: Protection; Healing; Divination; Luck; Earth; Moon.
Symbols: Moon (lunar items); Silver and White Items; Meadowsweet.

About Aine: This Celtic Goddess of the Moon shines on today's celebration, her name meaning "bright." Aine has strong connections with the land. Her blessing ensures fertile fields. She also gives luck to mortals and keeps us healthy.

To Do Today: Dating back to the 1400's this onion festival takes place in Bern. It includes several parades with intricate mechanical figurines and huge harvest festival with - you guessed it - tons of onions! Magickally speaking, onions are closely related to Aine because of their lunar appearance. According to metaphysical traditions, carrying or growing onions grants safety and banishes negativity.

A freshly cut onion rubbed on sores, bug bits, or scratches restores Aine's healthy energy by gathering the problem and taking it away. Bury or burn this slice to dispel the problem altogether.

One great (and tasty) way to invoke Aine, improve well-being, and improve your lunar attributes is by making and eating onion soup (or any other onion dish) today. Use red, Spanish, white, and cooking onions along with chives. By heating and blending them, you mix the magick to perfection. Stir clockwise, whispering Aine's name into the soup so she abides in each vitality-laden sip.

By Patricia Telesco ~ From "365 Goddess"

Although a focus is often placed on structured physical activity (e.g. spending 45 minutes on a treadmill 5 days a week), it is far from the only component of daily energy expenditure. In fact, your total energy expenditure consists of your resting metabolic rate (your “metabolism”), the thermic effect of food (the energy needed to digest your food) and active energy expenditure (energy used to move your body). Active energy expenditure includes structured physical activity, but also includes unstructured activities such as walking, standing, and even sitting (remember that anything that requires muscle contractions also requires energy). Collectively, these unstructured activities are referred to as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) and include all activity-related energy expenditure that is not purposeful exercise.
James Levine, professor of medicine from the Mayo Clinic, claims the calories we burn when we’re not working up a sweat are an important part of the weight-loss equation. He goes on to add that ”When the energetic cost of non-work mechanization is estimated experimentally it approximates to 100-200 kcal/day; a caloric deficit that potentially could account for the entire obesity epidemic.” Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or NEAT as Levine dubs it, refers to the calories you burn living your life: doing the laundry, making your bed, mowing the lawn. The more active you are the less likely you are to put on weight. “People who can switch on their NEAT are able to remain thin, despite periods of overfeeding,” says Levine. The trick is to become more active in your day-to-day life.
I’m sure you have read articles suggesting that eating just 100 calories less a day would make a significant difference in your losing weight. Well a little more attention to your daily low-level activity will at least accomplish the same effect with caloric burn, or perhaps simmer is a better word.

Trying to keep moving, I did laundry and a load of dishes in the dishwasher. I have a two story, so several trips up and down the stairs no doubt helped!
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