Creative Life Matters

 

Get set for the creative challenge of your life!

What’s onboard your lifetrain this season? Is a major move imminent? Are you downsizing? Maybe this is the year of a grand bucketlist vacation? Or maybe instead the staycation to remember??

Whether you’re basking in the familiar setting of an annual coastal break, heading inland to a treasured family outpost in the hills or enjoying the festival season in your favorite city…. now is the time to see it all through fresh eyes.

Reboot your senses, shake off the grey skies, block off the media and look around you. Take a walk and keep alert for 5 random bits of color.  — pick it up, snap a photo, put a frame around them — Enjoy an impromptu still life that reflects You.

 

Cultural Education Outreach

#Always Learning

 

 

Advertisements

Staying Healthy Through the Holidays

DSCN2338.JPG – Version 4
A Holiday Treat! Welcome our guest to The Parsley Way, health coach Donna Morin of Better Off Well, answering a question often asked at this time of year.
How do I stay healthy through the holiday season?
It’s a question that makes me chuckle because I know I am not the guru who has figured out how to say no to the pumpkin pie or the home-baked bread or the mashed potatoes with savory mushroom gravy or the….well, you get the point. I love to eat and I love good food.
But while I salivate over candied walnuts with the rest of you, I have made a number of strategies part of my lifestyle habits so that holidays don’t destroy the health I’ve built up over the years. It’s too important for me not to.
The best advice I can share is to start by listening to your body. It has an intelligence all its own and if you listen very carefully, you might find you learn a lot.
How can you do this?

img_7120

Ask the BIG question.
WHY do you want to make good choices over the holidays? Why it that important to you? Do you have children you want to be a good role model for? Who you want to stay active with? Do you feel better when you eat certain foods versus others? Are there things on your bucket list you want to do that require you to have energy? Have you been living in pain and you don’t want to any longer?
Asking yourself these questions brings you to a place of awareness. When we bring awareness to our choices, particularly AS we are making them, we give ourselves space to make the ones that serve us best. And here’s an important piece…if the reason for wanting to make good choices through the holidays is all about your weight- that number on the scale- good luck with that. Until we dig deeper to find out why it’s important to feel good, the number on the scale will rule our lives and distract us from making sustainable change.

img_7309


Take a deep breath…actually take many.

Too often in our lives we run on fumes. We plan for tomorrow before today has even begun. We live in yesterday while worrying about a fictional reality of the future that we have played out in our heads.
It’s enough to make anyone want to jump into the red velvet cheesecake and never come out again.
While stress has its advantages and keeps us focused when we need to be, chronic stress does a number on our bodies. It messes with the hormones that help us to sleep, that tell us when we are full, and that make us feel good about ourselves, just as we are.
During the hustle and bustle of this season, take a few minutes- even three makes a difference- every day to just stop. Breathe. Deeply. Buddha belly on the inhale; pull in your belly on the exhale. Detach your shoulders from your ears.

Be here. Right now.
This may not be the standard holiday advice you were looking for, the kind that tells you to use smaller plates when you eat, to avoid socializing in the kitchen, and to use an app to count your calories. Sure, those things can help, along with exercise, hydration, and getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night, but it’s when we begin to go to deeper places of mindfulness and presence that we understand ourselves better. We love ourselves better.
I started to give myself a little love 10 years ago, and it has made all the difference. Through consistent mindfulness practices, I have gotten to know my body much better. In fact, we’re pretty tight now. There are certain foods that make me feel great, and ones that make me feel like I went on a bender. There is a life force in whole foods that keeps me going unlike any processed food ever could.
My body is great about telling me when it’s not happy, and I am doing a much better job listening. For me, that’s the best gift I can give myself this holiday season.

Donna Morin is a certified health coach, writer, founder of Better Off Well Coaching & Consulting Services, and Board President for the Savvy Women’s Alliance. Find more tips and recipes through http://www.betteroffwell.com

img_3591

Photos Claire Mauro

“Warm True Voices”

img_7079
Dawn comes a little earlier now, and the filtered light through the window curtain at my foot nudged me awake. For a pleasant moment I savored the richness of a sleep-warmed bed. Then fresh loss returned to me; my peace of mind fell away. Fumbling through the beginning of my day the words would not come – the studdering step, step, step of my brain stuck, wouldn’t go forward. Flipping through the messages from the night and the morning, I saw one reminding me to drink lots of water and reflect. Oh yes, I realized, the toxins must be flushed lest they fester.

In that moment I was grounded back into myself. The endless looping disbelief gave way to conscious action steps. Flush the system, pick up your tools of choice and go back to work- battered, tired, preoccupied but, ultimately, present. When you slip on the banana peel you sit stunned for a moment, re-locating yourself in space. Then, assuming you are not permanently injured, you get up.

Next, you breathe. It sounds silly and obvious and somewhat ineffective, yet the difference between a shallow breath that heightens anxiety and the deep breath that calms has a significant impact on your health. And you engage your heart meridian by pressing on the 4 points, acupressure, along the outer edge of your arm at the base of your wrist. You can add up the means to lessen anxiety and focus yourself for action.
When you get up and move, remember to put your awareness on a steady exhale, strengthening the abdomen. A strong core is what stabilizes our balance, literally and figuratively, when we’re blindsided.

img_7462
Comfort Food – Carrot soup and Grilled Cheese on Multigrain Bread

I seldom refer to this but when I was seriously injured in a car accident, lying alone and vulnerable on the highway just outside my smashed auto, my consciousness took flight. My hip was broken, I was partly under the car and the driver of the other vehicle had run to the opposite side of the road to be safe himself. I literally could not get up, but in my mind I saw myself running away down the road. Then a stranger appeared. He was holding my shoe. The force had blown it off my foot and onto the road somewhere. The man, a trucker, brought it back to me. This stranger hunkered down and told me help was coming, he had radioed for it. He had kind eyes through wire-rimmed glasses and a soft voice, and I focused on him for a moment. Other than that I really only recall grey outlines of a snowy, icy November day on the Pennsylvania turnpike. After reassuring me, he turned and left. Shortly after that I heard the ambulance siren.

My good Samaritan, as I think of him, could have been anyone. We didn’t ask each other questions or establish our identities, occupations, or religions. For a long time since then I have felt that my sense of the world included the unexpected kindness, the general good of humanity. And I’ve gone about my work with faith that sometimes what you need will touch you and it will help.

This is what I know today: we each must focus on and be true to our core selves, hold on to our belief in our own thoughts and keep our own counsel, not adopting a tribal identity without reflection. And we need to grasp the integrity of our bodies, locating ourselves in space, in our core strength. The bully may knock you down but you can get up again and persevere. We women have been doing exactly that for eons. There are young children to protect, another generation of young adults to nurture.
img_7090
Poem “All Souls”by May Sarton
All Photos Claire Mauro

Great Expectations

Pedal Power

I have a love-hate relationship with life changes and transitions, no matter how much I tell myself they are good for me. Ready or not they always hit on a complex of emotional and physical responses; struggle and triumph rarely come in equal measure. As children we happily charted our growth in inches and delighted in our emerging abilities and skills. The surprise and exhilaration of suddenly realizing I was actually riding a two-wheeled bike without any help remains sharp in my memory as a major highlight of my childhood. Continue reading