Monthly Archives: December 2012

13 Simple Steps to Sanity (& Maybe Even Happiness).

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Photography by Ingrid Schroder.

I’m all up for seeking inspiration and soaking up all of the amazing offerings that are out there, but today I’m going in; I’m keeping it simple, and I’m taking my own advice.

Thirteen simple steps to sanity (and maybe even happiness) is what I’m going for here.

Instead of looking for some inspiration in angel cards, or in someone else’s yoga class, instead of pulling it from the tucks and folds of the never-ending flux and flow of the ocean or some other gem of the universe, today, I’m taking a leap of faith, and hoping that I’ll know just what to do.

When I woke up to find the thick sense of overwhelm just hovering there around me, I wasn’t sure I could ward off giving in. I felt baaaaaaad. ExhaustedOver it— “it” being, well, everything. My week of 5:30 a.m. toddler wake ups was killing me. I felt saturated; I felt like I was drowning, like everything I needed to achieve was completely out of my control.

Ugh, I hate that feeling—so familiar, and oh so ferociously friendly, but there was no way I was falling into that trap—no way I was going to be convinced or seduced or persuaded into the arms of that anxiety-laced and fear-ridden feeling of being overwhelmed.

Not today.

I had some notes I’d made to myself after moving through a big period of overwhelm a while back, so I decided it was time to have a little looksy and take my own advice.

And it went a lil’ somethin’ like this:

1. Before you even crawl out of bed, decide to make today good.

Undeterred by the amount of sleep you soaked up, the fact that your back may be killing, your neck cramping, your head pounding, your heart just dreading the day ahead of you, consciously decide that today is going to be a good day. Because you said so, and because ultimately, it’s you who gets to decide how to label your experiences.

You can’t choose what happens to you, but you can choose how to react to it.

It’s easy to slide in to powerless mode, so take a moment to remind yourself that attitude and intention pave the path for the rest of your day. So, why not choose to begin yours consciously? It may just be time to wake up.

2. Now that you’ve pried yourself from the hands of heaven, the next step to feeling on top of your shit is to make that bed. 

Yes, now. Before you have coffee, before you walk the dog, before you shower.

Regardless of the mood flavoring your wake up, regardless of a bad sleep, an accidental sleep in, or hardly any sleep at all, make your bed—doing so will never make you feel worse. Just get the sheets anddooner on there. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just needs to be done. That one minute you spend making your bed will not only give you oodles of mental space, but it will actively create a crisp, clean start to your day.

Whether you’re a stay at home mum, a lawyer, a DJ, an artist, or serving up fries at Micky Dee’s, you’re day deserves a fresh start!

3. Time for a treat. 

Nothing like something from your favorites list to soothe the blow of waking up to whip your ass into feel-good mode! So go ahead, devour your favorite “breaky,” sip a naughty coffee, and put on your most cozy of cozy pants to start your day. Make yourself excited to be awake. Take your time. Have a long shower. Wash your hair. Scrub your face, use a fresh towel, your “special” face cream, your most beautiful body oil or perfume.

Stop skimping out on yourself!

Stop waiting for a “better day,” “more time,” or a “more important moment” to enjoy all the little pleasures you already have surrounding you—start enjoying your life now!

4. Grab your favorite pen and notebook, and make yourself a to do list.

Our brains can get pretty cramped up and crowded, making it a tiny bit tricky to find all the little mental notes we’ve scattered about, so instead, get those thoughts out onto the page and map out your week. Organize your time so that it works for you, making sure that you can get everything you need to get done, done.

Even if you feel resistant to making lists, do it anyways. The act of emptying out your to do’s is guaranteed to clear you out, inspire you up, and space up any business rattling around in your mind. There’s just something about seeing your week laid out and knowing that you’ve allocated specific time to get the things that need to get done, done, that makes you feel in control. After all, it is you, and no one else, who designs your time.

So sit yourself down. Make your list. Break every big task that’s freaking you out and throwing you into shock-stuck-static zone down into its smaller components. Make it easier on yourself. Make things manageable and achievable, because it’s pretty hard to motivate yourself when you feel defeated before you’ve even begun.

5. Do something off your list.

Start with a few small chores (little chores feel good too), and then move on to the big ones, the daunting ones, the one’s you’ve been dreading and dancing and darting around. And when you come up against those feelings of overwhelm, the ones that normally consume you and convince you that whatever you’ve been avaoiding doing can wait another day, remind yourself that what you resist most reaps the biggest rewards when done.

6: Make a conscious choice to enjoy whatever it is you have to do today. 

Whether it’s work, groceries, the dishes, cleaning the toilet, waiting in line, mowing the lawn, raising a child, serving up coffee…shake up your perspective and decide to relish in the good of today’s to do’s.

Whatever is happening right now is your life, so you may as well love it, or at least like it.

Cleaning isn’t as bad when you think about it as cleansing and creating space and spreading your heart out into your home. Tidying up and doing the gardening and filling the fridge and making the bed aren’t as mundane when you remind yourself of the fact that you do it because you are creating a homey, cozy space that you can relax and feel good in. When you start to notice the little beauties embedded and engraved into your every day tasks, you begin to find the extraordinary within the ordinary. It isn’t complicated; all you have to do is simply open your eyes.

7. Slow down! Ask yourself, do you really need to rush? 

What are you hurrying towards anyway?

What is it that could be worth rushing through your life for?

We miss the good, we miss the beauty, we miss the sweet smells and the sweet smiles and the overall sweetness of life when we rush through it. All the jewels go unnoticed when they’re whirling by in your peripheral vision, nothing getting the gift of your full attention. We’re always rushing to what’s next, looking for the next good quote, the next amazing photo, the next Facebook post, the next blog, the next pose we’ll master, our next home, next car—we rush towards, and usually into, our next relationship.

We’re constantly searching for more without ever fully acknowledging what is.

8. Smile, and mean it. 

Smiling takes the edge off, and let’s face it, it takes a lot of extra effort to be pissed off when you’re smiling.

Choose lightness and rock that beautiful smile. Your own day may not be the only one you make.

9. Do something nice for someone else without expecting anything in return.

Open a door, carry someone’s groceries, share your fresh bread, give a friend a lift, leave a little love note, a little snack, a homemade card.

You can make a difference, so why not show some love?! 

(The act doesn’t have to be monumental or cost $100 to make someone’s day; it’s the little things…)

10. Breathe.

Seems ridiculous that we have to remind ourselves to do the one thing that keeps us alive doesn’t it? But realistically, how often to you think you really deeply, fully breathe? And, in contrast, how often do you find yourself holding your breath? How often is your breath speedy, sharp or short?

Exactly my point.

Breathing deeply is an instant de-stresser, a chiller-outer, a calmer-downer. It’s an emotion-shifter, a focus and energy-maker, an endorphin-releaser, and a toxin-taker.

So take a deep breath and milk that shit.

Photo: Somebody-Out There

11: Get outside.

Take a walk. Rake some leaves. Wash your car. Plant some flowers. Pick a bouquet.

Wake up and shake up and light up your day.

Walk to work. Take your lunch break outside. Sip your coffee in the sun, draft your blog by the ocean, go for a bike ride or a joyride, or a moonlit walk—just get outside. Arch and stretch and unwind and melt your body on your mat in the crisp morning sun. Hang your laundry out on the line. Take late afternoon strolls. Window shop. Go for a run.

Air yourself out, air your day out, your mind out, your heart out—just get out!

12: Move your body. 

Doesn’t matter how, just move it.

Have a living room dance party, jump some rope, practice your handstands, or your forward folds, or the splits. Mow the lawn.

Be open to spontaneity.

Play hopscotch or tag or hide and go seek. Chase your kids. Chase your dog, chase your man or lady. Go for a long walk, push that pram up some hills, climb some stairs, play beach volleyball, get in the ocean, or on your bike or your board, or put on your dancing shoes, but get moving!

Exercise will always makes you feel better, and moving your body will always make you feel more alive.

13. Get some rest!

Go to bed early. Have a nap. Rest when you need it, and don’t feel bad about it.

You need to rest—yes, you! 

We all do. Funny then that sleep tends to be the first gem to slip through our fingers, the first thing to take a hit when life gets tough and rough and spiky. But you know that everything is more difficult when you’re tired. So schedule it in. Make time for your sleep.

Accept that no one is able to schedule time in for you to relax and rest and re-charge but you.

Put it on your to do list. Slot it in instead of just waiting for it to spontaneously happen.

Life is never going to slow down or become less busy, so if you want to stay healthy and avoid burning out, you need to start carving out time for resting and refueling and recharing.

Being tired more than sucks. So choose to get enough sleep.

Remind yourself that being well rested paints everything in a brighter shade of light. Remind yourself that you can’t possibly continue to live your life well, and offer, and love and be calm and grounded and centered if you’re running your tank on empty!

So, it’s simple: take care of yourself, because you can.

It doesn’t have to be difficult, time-consuming or complicated.

Transformation doesn’t always require huge, mind-blowing shifts, and the changes we make don’t have to be extravagant or extra hard to initiate change.

Just keep it simple, remembering it’s the little things that make life big.

Raw Almonds – Raw Lies

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Mehdi Comeau

Photo: Madlyinlovewithlife

If you think you’ve been eating raw almonds — don’t be so sure.

On September 1, 2007, the USDA, FDA and ABC (Almond Board of California) passed a federal mandate dictating the pasteurization of all almonds grown in the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico.

In conjunction, the ABC and federal government support labeling pasteurized almonds as “raw,”leaving individual manufacturers and retailers to determine their labeling practices.  In other words, even conventional, chemically treated almonds can legally be deceptively labeled and sold as “raw.”

Earlier this year, I purchased a small, expensive jar of raw almond butter—free of chemicals, boosting with raw nutrition and sustainably grown. Rich in vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, riboflavin, phosphorus and copper, to name a few, raw almonds supply a bounty of healthful properties while reigning as the most alkalizing nut.

Reading that my purchased jar of almond butter used Californian almonds, I recalled the 2007 mandate on U.S. almond pasteurization. Feeling violated and lied to, I called the company for answers.

A senior representative reluctantly admitted their “raw” almonds were indeed steam pasteurized. The representative tried to rationalize the company’s moral misdoings by claiming the process only affects the outer skin.  However, the outer skin is where the majority of nutrients in fruits and vegetables reside, mind you.

Nevertheless, any process strong enough to kill Salmonella creates a product by definition that is the opposite of raw—not living, dead and, depending on the process, dangerous to ingest.

I won’t disclose the manufacturer of this particular little jar since they are not alone in their malarkey toting bold falsehoods. As a side note, they did offer me free samples of other, actually raw, nut butters in their line, which I accepted. However, I remain far from satisfied with their industrial scheme.

Photo: Halfrain

How are almonds “treated?”

Steam treatment, high heat (dry or oil) roasting, blanching and toxic fumigation with propylene oxide (PPO) are the main four methods for treating almonds. However, the most used methods are those of steam and PPO for organic and conventional almonds, respectively.

PPO fumigation, which is used for non-organic almonds, is repulsively dangerous. PPO is a highly toxic chemical that poses severe risks to human health. It’s a recognized carcinogen and a cause of disease according to the EPA. Further, PPO damages the liver, gastrointestinal, immune, developmental and respiratory systems with varied short and long-term exposure symptoms that range from inflamed lesions to neurological damage.

The American Motorcycle and Hot Rod Associations previously used PPO as fuel, but even they banned it once realizing its dangers. Further, Mexico, Canada and the entire European Union banned PPO due to its carcinogenic risks.

Conventionally grown almonds absorb a fair level of chemicals as is. Frosting the cake with PPO makes places them on high health risk alert: beware of industrial almonds!

Steam treatment is generally used for organic almonds and is the least invasive method of treatment, yet still is powerful enough to kill bacteria at temperatures that also void healthful properties. Nutritionists agree that raw, organic almonds are more nutritious than pasteurized almonds.

Photo: RahelSharon

Why would public health be jeopardized in contrary attempts to protect it? Why would those in power purport such fabrications?

It isn’t for our safety. While meat, eggs and dairy substantiate pasteurization and cooking to avoid food-borne illness, there is no scientific evidence proving almonds to be innately dangerous. Almonds require direct transfer from unsanitary environments and practices to become contaminated with Salmonella.

Peanuts, spinach and other produce have had significant Salmonella outbreaks as well, yet have not garnered a similar protocol. Why?

It’s business. The global economy is competitive. The ABC is comprised of industrial almond growers who have substantial money and influence and likely to want to rid competition.

Imposing pasteurization regulations as part of a scheme to control the industry helped the ABC direct prices, eliminate competition and monopolize their industrial turf.

The pasteurization program was developed through research conducted by, guess who, the Almond Board of California.

The USDA alerted a select elite subset within the industry when the rule was first proposed. According to the Cornucopia Institute, only 115 select growers and handlers (out of over 6,000) were asked for their input in an initial 45-day comment period.

Others in the almond business were not acquainted with the proposed rule until its enactment, while no efforts to inform the public were made.

In part for driving out competition, pasteurization equipment is unreasonably expensive for small-scale farmers. If they don’t have equipment, they’re forced to ship to and from a treatment facility, costing them potential profit. Both options are out of reach for small-scale farmers.

The ABC provides equipment for its allies—dominating the market. Small-scale farmers simply can’t compete.

Merit worthy almond farmers using environmentally sound, sustainable methods for producing high quality nutritional food sources are diminishing from domestic and international markets.

Sustainable practices encourage biodiversity and prevent bacteria from spreading. In contrast, conventional methods create conditions for easy harvest by using chemicals to destroy undergrowth and organisms—including those that keep opportunistic pathogens at bay. The former enhances soil and creates clean food, while the latter destroys soil and contaminates both land and food.

The Cornucopia Institute calls the pasteurization mandate a “technological Band-Aid,” when the USDA and ABC research should focus on organic and sustainable farming in preventing Salmonella and other bacterial outbreaks.

Photo: HealthAliciousNess

Where can we find actual raw, unpasteurized almonds?

Only almonds being sold commercially are restricted to the mandate. Therefore, if you or anyone you know grows almonds, indulge! Like raw milk, it is legal to buy direct from farmers.

There are also a handful of online sources for organic, non-pasteurized almonds:

Fine Sicilian almonds and almond butter is available online from Live Superfoods. You can also order Spanish and Italian raw almonds from Jaffe Bros. natural foods.

Living Nutz is a great company supporting organic, minimally processed and healthy raw foods. You can purchase their “truly raw” almonds online.

Organic Pastures in California offers ‘Truly Raw Almonds” from their “On Farm” store, but the USDA will not permit raw almonds to be shipped from phone call orders at this time–there is a pending lawsuit trying to reverse this policy.

Check out Organic Pasture’s position on pasteurization, farming, labeling and legal issues for more information.

What is the solution?

The Cornucopia Institute highlights a valid solution: allow raw, organic almonds back into the market, but require labels warning of possible risks. This solution offers sustainable farmers the ability to survive in the almond business and bolster sustainable growing practices.

In addition, the U.S. should join the E.U., Canada, Mexico and the American Motorcycle and Hot Rod Associations and ban the use of PPO!

What can we do?

In efforts to inspire people and corporations to be cognizant of their practices and to ensure a healthy and sustainable future, Seth Leaf from Living Nutz initiated an online GoPetition against Mandatory Almond Pasteurization. With over 30,000 signatures, they need more—sign the e-petition!

The Cornucopia Institute is leading an Authentic Almond Project. I encourage you to check out their site and download the Cornucopia Institute Fact Sheet (PDF) on the Mandatory Sterilization of Almonds for more information and a comprehensive review of issues discussed.

Were you aware of these issues already? Are there any policy updates? Please share your thoughts and opinions, and always be a conscious consumer, wary of what you read and eat.

 

A flat-capped nomad, Mehdi Comeau enjoys adventuring, discovering and muse on people and life. As a keenly curious enviro-gastronome, it’s in his nature to pursue perpetual learning and growth, be outdoors, active and create crafty kitchen concoctions, while tuning in and allowing clues in life to guide. When he’s not engaged elsewhere, you’ll often find him writing with a green blend at his side. He likes the motto: everything in moderation and full appreciation.  You can read a growing collection of his musings on his blog, SolsticeSon’s Celebrational Servings.