Fennel !

So mysterious. So licorice – like. Conversation starter. Feathery. Somewhat ugly.

“So, is this fennel?” asked the grocery store clerk. “Yes, it is”. The women behind me in line asks, “so what are you going to make out of that? My mother was a terrible cook and I don’t think I like fennel”.

I told her about My Hearty Life blog and how I have been chasing becoming plant based hearty. I told her I planned to make pesto, parsnip and carrot soup with fennel, adding fiber and goodness to the palate. My fennel was a true conversation starter.

How many produce items have I ever used to nourish my body? I spent time truly looking at the bounty there and realized that my imagination could run wild. I’m grateful for all of the online recipe sites and Pinterest for more ideas!

Fennel is a member of the carrot family and has a taste like licorice. It is known for its high fiber. The stalks aren’t eaten but are delicious when added to soup stock. The bulb is delicious marinated and sliced into stews and salads.

Try fennel today. It lowers cholesterol and strengthens blood. Educate yourself so that the next time someone says “what are you going to make out of that” you have some really good responses!

Bon Appetit!

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My Hearty Life

Hurling towards growth and strength has always been very easy for me. If I willed it, without much effort, it happened. Nothing ever seemed too hard to do or too out of reach. But, life happens and there are things out of the ordinary that happen that upset the way life was meant to be. I’m making an effort to return to ” better than before” and live the heartiest life I can now. It started with a look at how to get more nutrition along with vitamins and protein into my daily life. I met with an expensive nutritionist who did not understand my needs and lead me further down a path that ended up working against me instead of for me. As a result, my Hearty Life journey began.

I’ve always wanted to blog about nutrition and wellness. My focus is going to be mostly on macrobiotics and a whole body, whole food approach. In my case, food is my medicine and the results are starting to make sense. I will also delve into an acid watcher diet to try and help those with acid reflux disease. Our nation is struggling because of our SAD American diet and crazy hectic lives we often lead.

It’s time to start. I have never been more ready.

Truer Connections in a Digital Age

Babies are born longing for it. Without human touch and love, an infant will fail to thrive. In our digital age, are we thriving with the human connection?

Yesterday the therapist’s office was in a historic section of a small town. The house was enormous, sectioned off in office spaces for therapy appointments. The house smelled like the past, history and days gone by. Most rooms were well appointed with wallpaper and gaudy carpet. Entering the space to tell my story felt very welcoming, warm and open. It felt good to have an unbiased person here my story of longing and loss. Hope and preservation of who I am and always have been.

My story with her began when wellness was lost. Struggling with healing from a major surgery feels like a mountainous event. You live to be well. When that is stripped away at any level, it takes a village.

Telling the story wasn’t easy. It brought back so many emotions, opinions that were not necessarily the true case, words spilled and fell from a heart that felt abandoned a long time ago.

Years ago the words “you are hard to get close to” were uttered. What do you do with that? It felt like a brick wall. It still does. Try as we might, words like that don’t go away easily, no matter how hard we try. We long to be close. We pour our souls out with that longing. Independence strips it away. Our emotions and ways of dealing with life’s pressures eat away at it. We are too busy, too trapped in our own stuff to reach out more. Maybe we are burnt out from helping everyone else. Maybe because of our digital age we are losing more than we are gaining.

A recent Psychology Today elaborated on the topic of just how pervasive technology is in our daily lives. Devouring the article within the ten minute wait was very telling. If we don’t change the way we love, the connections we have will be lost to the digital age. I grew up without it. I had more friends back then. More people were in and engaged with my life. It is my solemn goal to get back to it. To sure up the connections in a very real and personal way. And to prove that I am not hard to get close to.

Recently inviting a friend over was first steps in reconnecting. Planning to do more. My life became small when illness crept in. My truest friends have stepped up and shown how much they truly care. For that I am so very grateful. And grateful will be a part of every day I am still here.

It’s time to prove that small, increases in connecting make a real difference in life. Regardless of naysayers. Game on.

The Heavens Open Up (just for me) or I Love Autumn this year

Most of my adult life has been spent struggling with chronic pain. Being the type of person who would rather climb a mountain than take a pill or do the work, I continue daily to just simply “go through the motions”. Get up in the morning. Take my cocker spaniels out for a brief introduction to a new day. Feed my crazy feline. Shower. Eat something nutritious. Line up the acidophilus, the calcium supplements, the liquid vitamins that cost more than my weekly salary (well, maybe not but it feels that way). Fit in some stretches. Rush to work in more traffic than is worth mentioning. Go to work and do what I love. All the while I am in pain. Put on that brace face. Since I love to laugh, I make it my game face.

That was yesterday because after thirty seven years of pain, I finally was introduced to a physical therapist who specializes in women’s health issues and especially Interstitial Cystitis. Meeting with her has given me more hope in one hour than scores of urologists and primary care physicians have in years of practice. Her words brought an ocean of tears (mostly happy) because for the first time I had validation that the pain is real. I had validation that it is perfectly o.k. to have a small day. She told me it’s perfectly o.k. to say “I just can’t help you today”. Her last words before our session ended were permission to be utterly and totally gentle with myself. I welcomed that just like I welcome autumn. I missed summer. I have set backs. I miss me. But she promised yoga! She promised that once I do the work and help my body function well I might want to go on a date! I might want to go dancing! Her words filled me with hope and courage. My advice would always be “never give up”. “Fight like a girl!”

Autumn 2017 suddenly looks so much brighter.

Social Media. Breaking it down. 

I have lived a long time.  Most of my life was lived without the Internet, smart phones, Outlook, Facebook, Instagram, and, heaven forbid, Twitter.  Where would our president be without it?  And all of my life I was totally fine without it.  I remember the first computer we ever had, back in the eighties.  It was a monster looking plastic box with a screen and a whole lot of learning came along with it.  I never had a personal email until my oldest son was around sixteen years of age.  Did I ever really need an email address? 

Recently I approached an Autism specialty school for a family and the intake person said ” what is their email address?”  I told her they didn’t have one.  The voice on the other side said “now that’s a problem…they have to have an email because that is how everyone communicates from the school to the parent about the child”.  This goes right along with my thought process recently.  My fight for the in person response.

I am making an effort to walk away from social media. Most of my waking hours are spent in front of a screen at work.  My neck and head aches have gotten out of hand.  My eyes bother me.  My heart breaks when I see posts in FB that exclude me. Everyone appears to have the perfect This, the perfect That.  It’s too much.  Then I tend to think about how fake things appear to be.  Friends aren’t really friends. They are characters on a screen that I end up modeling my thoughts and feelings after. 

Then there’s this thing that allows anyone to say and do anything on media.  I can de-friend anyone and have.  I can cheer the stranger with the same attitude about global warming on Twitter.  I can see the person I thought was one of my best friends on Instagram though I never see her in person any more.  

The break up from social media has just begun.  I am a neophyte at it. It’s hard work.  It requires more effort to meet in person or pick up the phone or heaven forbid, a meaningful hand written letter.  But I fear for us as humans. We are going in the wrong direction.  Technology is changing us. Our connections.  Our love. 

It takes a village to march toward real connection.  I’m starting that in small ways.  I need that break.  And I don’t care who wants to comment on it. Like it or not. 

The Cat on my Shoulder

The cat on my shoulder is an insistent character.  He is a big personality and he insists on striving to run my life.  His way.  He has some bigger than life issues.  He has to eat the best, most expensive food that money can buy at Tractor Supply.  It keeps him from having an upset stomach, eliminating constant clean up from illness.  As a result, he is growing big and strong.  Strong enough to scare and intimidate guests that come by.  Recently he showed his lion-like stance to a sun room contractor (no, I cannot afford a sun room). This man insisted that ALL cats love him.  Until my cat showed him that it just wasn’t so. This cat turned into a mean, nasty, growling, spitting, snarling, menacing feline that even frightened me.  And he doesn’t frighten me.  Ever.  So what do you do with a cat like him?  I found a book in a lovely library in North Carolina last year that was on this very subject.  Cat behavior.  Bad cat behavior. And what to do about it.  I’ve tried everything.  The only thing I haven’t tried is therapy.  On myself.  It just might help.  img_0126

Life Is Like A Dance (hopefully with party shoes on)

I’m of the opinion that without dancing, life would be extremely boring.  I have never formally taken a lesson, but grew up with a maternal grandmother that was the vision of everything that I aspired to me.  She was very feminine, had expensive tastes in perfume and loved to watch figure skating and dancing – think Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  She reminded me of Lucille Ball (her name was Lucille) and dressing up in her clothes and costume jewelry filled my world with color and  elegance.  I danced in her living room, in the yard, garage and front porch.  Music moves me every single time. 

Fast forward to years ago when I lived in a small town that hosted singles dances once a month in the white church basement.  Although coupled with a great guy(we weren’t really single), we attended the dances all the time and had the best friends anyone could ask for. We got to really know each other and became not just dance partners but extremely good friends. Those days are long over and hard to recreate.  Missed are the familiar faces, the care that happens in a small rural town where people know your name and care about your life.  I often find that missing in a big city. Perhaps it’s my fault.  Not sure. 

My guy was the best dancer.  Everyone wanted to dance with him!  We moved across the dance floor as if on air and came home full of jokes and shared stories and a whole lot of love.  There are times when truly it would be wonderful to go back and revisit those good old dance days with the great and not so great dj’s, the good songs and not so good, depending on the person doing the set. 

Then there are the old songs, old time rock and roll that bring back all the memories and remind you that lost times are never truly lost.  They live in you long past the days gone by. Life is a gift.  Dance your way through it.