One of my favorite quotes is by J.R.R. Tolkien: "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." Here I'm giving glimpses of all I am deciding in the time that is given to me. Enjoy! All pictures and posts are mine, thank you! Please ask permission for photo use.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December detox

I received a juicer as a bridal shower gift from my awesome coworkers, and I'm in love with the thing.

My twin sister spent some time with me after Christmas and we had an end-of-year detox: making lots of smoothies, trying out various juice recipes (and even making our own creation!), and eating lots of raw foods during the day.

Most of our meals during the day were liquid, and we even had a completely raw dinner one evening. We walked and talked as we shopped non-stop. We did yoga DVDs together and watched movies while drinking hot tea and mulled apple and cranberry cider (just 100% organic juice--no added sugars or other juices involved here). We treated ourselves to homemade beauty treatments, such as a hair mask made from avocado and coconut milk, a face mask made from pumpkin and honey, and a face/body mask made from pineapple and coconut milk.

The star of the detox weekend, however, was the juicer. My sister received an identical juicer as a Christmas present, and we both are juicing beginners. It was so much fun to learn how to use the machine, see its power in action, drink the yummy and healthy treats it made, and compost the pulp afterward.

Our skin was glowing, our bodies felt great, and best of all, I was with my sis.

So long, rubbish! Welcome to beauty, simplicity, love, and joy. Out with the junk, in with the clean. Goodbye, regrets, toxic relationships, and old anxieties. Hello, peace, understanding, reflection, and new dreams. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 20, 2013

happy winter solstice

Last night at yoga practice, our teacher tied the winter solstice to our practice. Tomorrow, December 21, is the winter solstice--the shortest day of the year. Our teacher explained how people used to mark this as the real turning point in the year, when the sun stands still and then slowly comes back to bring more light and life to earth. It's almost like an earlier new year. We did a lot of twists to "ring out" the bad and then a lot of opening postures to open ourselves up to the good. At the end of class, we did a meditation: we closed our eyes, and on our exhales we focused silently on the word "release," and on our inhales we silently focused on the word "receive." She closed our practice with a wish for a happy new year when the winter solstice is here, and so I'd like to offer the same wish from me to you and yours.

"We'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

the price others pay

I'm not trying to get on a soapbox here and I hate it when I sound preachy. But I want people to really think about the hidden costs of always trying to keep up with the latest technologies.

I don't have a smartphone. I have affection for my "dumb phone" (as I call it) that has the sliding keyboard. I have a computer at work, a laptop at home, and even a smaller laptop I use for travel. For now, I just don't need my email or my Facebook or games on my phone. And yet everyone these days seems to be telling me I "NEED" to get a smartphone.

When I was growing up, my sisters and I never, ever had a TV in our bedrooms. When I was driving a car, my two sisters and I shared one cell phone (which meant two of us were without it while the other had it), and it was only to be used in emergency situations. Depending on what we were doing, we had to decide who had priority in having the phone. We had just one family computer growing up. We didn't own a video game system. I'm not knocking the use of technology in homes--heck, I've embraced faster computers, larger TV screens, and telecommuting technology, and my husband loves his PlayStation. I don't think it's wrong for people to evolve with the times or enjoy what technology can do for us.

And people fully realize the price others pay when they are scrambling to get the latest iPhone (really, Apple, how many times a year do you have to put out a new phone?)? Do we fully understand how much waste is affecting our environment, and worse, how our constant demands and consumer culture are killing others?

While driving to work the other morning I heard a story on NPR about how electronic waste has spiked worldwide, and the U.S. is at the top of the list when it comes to dumping "high-tech trash."

After a conversation about this topic, my colleague sent me a link to a powerful, devastating video about war in Africa and how we are funding the violence. I realize it's the holiday season and many people are thinking about presents. Please, take a moment to reflect on all that you truly have, be honest about what you really, truly need, and shop smart.

Eve Ensler wrote this commentary in 2009 about the war on women in Congo, a war that is directly tied to "our role in plundering minerals." Four years have passed, and the violence remains.

There are many things you can do to be a better consumer, saving your money as well as saving the earth and helping our brothers and sisters in Africa and other countries that slave away for our pleasures and conveniences:

  • Don't buy things because you want them. Buy things (stuff) when you need them.
  • Don't throw out an old model just because a new one has come out. Get your money's worth! Use what you have until it runs out or until it's broken.
  • Recycle and/or safely dispose of computers, TVs, batteries, lightbulbs, cell phones, and etc. Many Best Buy stores will recycle them, and some natural foods stores will also recycle batteries and light bulbs. Also, if something still works, give to Goodwill so that another family can get use out of your old TV or DVD player.
  • Purchase fair trade coffee, chocolate, sugar, and etc. Look for labels that say they are fair trade certified. People in other countries deserve to receive a fair price for their work and their goods, and it's important that we work to try and identify which organizations, companies, and etc. don't take advantage of the labor that is available to them.
  • Ask yourself if your eight-year-old really needs a cell phone. If you have multiple children, can they share a laptop or an iPod?
  • Consider purchasing non-toxic toys for your children, or books to read, or a bicycle so they can go outside and enjoy fresh air and sunshine.
  • Support local, small businesses when shopping for gifts, or shop in stores like Ten Thousand Villages where you can find unique, hand-made gifts from around the world.

Friday, December 13, 2013

merry christmas to me

I'm so incredibly happy right now. I have a keyboard! This holiday season (and no matter your religion), I'm encouraging you to treat yourself and pursue what you love.