Scattered Life Collective: September 19th

scattered_life_collective

This post was inspired by a blogging adventure  called Scattered Life Collective by Cynthia Lee. It’s a great series and I hope that you will check out the rest of the participants and perhaps even join us!
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current time: 8:35 AM

on the menu:  Caribou Coffee’s Spinach & Swiss Mini. Only 1 g of sugar! OK, so you need the back story…

My sisters and I are participating in a social community called FatSecret (FatSecret.com) and we started a challenge this week that has us NOT weighing ourselves for two weeks so we can see how much we’ve lost in two weeks. Now, I could have just stuck with my normal food intake but I haven’t been doing very well in the weight loss department. I have been tracking my food intake (which is very helpful, by the way, if you’ve never tried it!) and my weight has gone down some but hasn’t gone down as fast as theirs did.

So, I decided that I would give up sugar for two weeks. My two sisters have given up sugar for months now and I just wasn’t ready. I was eating LESS sugar but not giving it up altogether. Sunday night, I was sitting on the couch with my husband and daughter looking for something to watch. As we reviewed the new releases, I saw the movie Fed Up appear. I had been wanting to see this movie about childhood obesity. To my great surprise, both my daughter and my husband were also excited to see it! (Generally, they do NOT get into any of my dieting ideas. They normally just want to eat whatever they want.) When the movie was over, both my daughter and my husband said that they wanted to join me in the no sugar thing! So what we decided to do was to eat less than 10 grams of sugar a day. The reason we chose this amount was because this is the amount that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends. Actually, they WANTED to recommend this amount but it was never published because the U.S. government fought it and won. (Read this post to learn all about it.)

So we are reading all our labels and if sugar is on the ingredient list, then we look at how many grams it is. We are not counting fruit because that is healthy and if you eat it whole, the fiber content negates the negative effects of the fruit sugar. We are not counting whole foods that are naturally sweet like tomatoes, either. We are counting sugars from molasses and honey. I am not counting stevia, since this does not have the same effect on blood sugar that other sweet foods do. Our goal is to eat less than 10 grams a day and so far, it is has been remarkable.

Without sugar in our diet, food tastes much better! We are all somewhat foodies, and have been very surprised at how good everything is tasting this week! Fruit is a special treat. What I have noticed is that sugar is a distractor. If sugar is available, we want to eat it above all else. So we eat, say, a granola bar instead of an apple. This is the default for our brains after so much conditioning through media and habit. I have also noticed that, because food is tasting so much better in foods without sugar that I suspect that sugar is added to mask the taste in foods that are not really good tasting like processed crap. I have also noticed that, usually, the foods labeled as “for a healthy heart” or likewise, have more sugar added because they have removed the fat but added sugar instead!

I will keep you posted on our progress. It’s a great adventure.

Sacred Beginnings: Mystery

Fort

 

I am having fun with this random post idea from Mornings with Mary. Each day is a new word to consider and today’s word is Mystery.

The Tao Te Ching is full of mystery. Starting with its author, there has been speculation over the centuries as to whether or not Lao Tzu was actually a real person. Some say that it was many people who wrote the text. Certainly there have been many authors supporting the text throughout its history. Does it matter if Lao Tzu was real or not? I think the fact that his life is relatively unknown gives us an even greater appreciation of his message. Wouldn’t that be just how he would have wanted it?

From the very first chapter, it is revealed that the study of Tao is “a doorway to the mysteries of life”. What are these mysteries? In true Taoist fashion, these mysteries are contained within the most mundane things. We can observe our lives carefully to find the patterns that have been played out over all of human history. These basic patterns, which everyone ignores because they are so basic and normal, help us to figure out our world – but only if we pay close attention to them.

This type of mystery cannot be solved. To solve it would dissolve its value. As my husband commented the other day, “No spiritual seeker really wants to find the answer.” This is true. We just revel in the mystery.

 

 

Tao Tuesdays: Chapter 65

I got this great photo at www.hetemeel.com!
I got this great photo at www.hetemeel.com!

Who needs Taco Tuesdays when you can have Tao Tuesdays? I am sure that Einstein would have really loved this…

Here is How it Works

I will post a chapter of the Tao Te Ching each Tuesday.  (My version – you can see all of the chapters on my List of Chapters page if you want to work ahead!) I will put a Mr. Linky entry form with it so that you can write your OWN commentary to the chapter on your own blog and then come back here after you post and add your link! Simple! (Please add the DIRECT link to your post about that particular chapter to make it easy for our readers!)

Tao Tuesdays: Chapter 64

I got this great photo at www.hetemeel.com!
I got this great photo at www.hetemeel.com!

Who needs Taco Tuesdays when you can have Tao Tuesdays? I am sure that Einstein would have really loved this…

Here is How it Works

I will post a chapter of the Tao Te Ching each Tuesday.  (My version – you can see all of the chapters on my List of Chapters page if you want to work ahead!) I will put a Mr. Linky entry form with it so that you can write your OWN commentary to the chapter on your own blog and then come back here after you post and add your link! Simple! (Please add the DIRECT link to your post about that particular chapter to make it easy for our readers!)

Sacred Beginnings: Listen

Tonight I am on my own. A rare treat.

So our word for today in the Sacred Beginnings challenge is LISTEN. Then I read Deborah Weber’s lovely post about listening. She is fantastic. I love her sweet references to ears and her selfie.

Speaking of selfies, I got a new photo printer for my birthday. I take a lot of pictures, but for some reason since going digital with my cameras, I rarely print them out. I have more photos, but I just don’t see them. So this is a good thing. My thinking is that I can print all kinds of things.  Here is one I want to print of me and my sweet daughter:

Me & Tatia

OK, wait. We are talking about listening here. The topic is listening and I have a quiet house all to myself. Delightful!

Listening… what do I hear? Right now, it is very quiet. There are crickets chirping outside. It is night time. Someone is lighting off firecrackers from the town festival which is happening tonight. Everyone is celebrating, including me. I am celebrating in the silence.

My usual time of silence is early morning. It is in the early morning hours that I carve out my own space for spiritual and writing practice. I am an early riser in a houseful of people that adore sleeping in.  In these wee hours, I am listening to the centuries of Taoist leaders who are guiding me through this life’s path. What are they telling me? I am listening to an ancient language that is not my own, but it speaks to me more clearly than any language I have known. I am listening to my body, to my spirit.

Sometimes I don’t listen. Sometimes I clear out the dishwasher and start the laundry and before I know it, my time of listening has disappeared. I want to remember how sacred and important this time is. I want to put my spiritual and writing practice first. To me, they are joined. In writing and reading and studying the Tao, I feel that I am doing the best thing that I could do with my life. My life affects the lives around me, and if I can live the best way I know how – then I can help many people.

What about you? What are you listening to?

Sacred Beginnings: Devotion

A fisherman at Atitlan Lake in Guatemla

A dear blogger friend of mine, Deborah Weber, mentioned a blogging challenge she is doing this month called Sacred Beginnings. I need a blogging challenge. I’ve gotten better this month, but my blogging practice has really suffered these last few months, generally.

For this blogging challenge, put forth by Lori-Lyn Hurley, we are asked to contemplate a word each day and write about it. I may not do this every day, but I love the fun of a blogging challenge to help me reach out and meet new people and see what others are blogging about. My goal is to do this a few days a week this month.

Today’s word is DEVOTION.

One thing that appealed to me about this particular challenge is this idea of taking some time each morning to write and contemplate. My ideal morning routine usually includes both, but this is sporadic and I would love for it to be more consistent. Now that school is back in session, my solitude in the mornings ends promptly at 6 AM when my daughter wakes up. One thing that I am devoted to is dedicating time to her whenever possible, so I took a break just now to go and have some breakfast with her. Now that she is off doing her morning routine, I am back to writing this post.

The Merriam Webster online version suggests that devotion means “an act of prayer or private worship”. For me, my cup of coffee in hand, my precious morning writing time is my way of devoting my most valuable resource – TIME – to what I love: the Tao. Almost all of my writing these days is about the Tao. Any time that I can spend with my writing and contemplating the Tao is my devotional time.

Still, like many modern lives these days, my life gets quickly filled with the mundane: planning meals, keeping junk off the kitchen table, going to work, taking out the garbage, changing the sheets… the list goes on. It is so easy to forget about doing anything else when our lives are so full already. So I try and build in little triggers to remind myself of the Tao throughout my day.

I love to cook meals for my family (my other devotion). Cooking for me is a precious way of keeping the mundane daily world sacred. I carefully pick my ingredients at the store – trying to buy the freshest, most local but organic ingredients possible. Last night was a rare opportunity to cook with my daughter. I am trying to help her to learn to cook so last night we cooked her favorite meal together. I just wish I was more patient with her. It is always a challenge to me as a parent. Often times, we like to put on our favorite music when we are in the kitchen together and last night we did some dancing with our cooking, which was fun.

Many years ago, a dear friend of mine taught me to think of cleaning differently. He suggested that cleaning is a way of thanking your home for doing its job of sheltering you. I liked that image and have stuck with it. I don’t always like cleaning jobs, but it does help remind me to be aware of the sacred in this mundane activity. When I am present enough to remember this, my cleaning is definitely more pleasurable.

Well, my time is up this morning so I must end this little note. I must head off to work. But while I am working today, I will try and remember to think of the bigger picture of why I am doing my work. The Tao is in everything – even in my school with all of my computers. Today, we are handing out Chromebooks to all of our students. It’s a big day because it is the first day that our entire school will have a device in every student’s hands. My role is to take care of those devices. As I hand out each device, I will remember that this is the day that they are going to start their new digital education. Pretty cool stuff.

I Ching Hexagram #12: Misfortune

70px-Iching-hexagram-12.svg

wikipedia image

 

In this hexagram, the downward energy of Earth and the upward energy of Heaven cause the two trigrams to disconnect and go their separate ways. For things to be created, energy must be mixed and it definitely is not mixing well here!

This hexagram represents Fall. Summer is over and now we must look forward towards winter. As an energetic pattern, it represents the times when all seems bleak. If you turn on the news on any given day, you may experience this. If you study the effects of global changes, you may experience this.

Colourful autumnal leaves illuminated by the sun

The other day I was visiting a friend of mine who is going through some issues with depression. It felt as if there was nothing that I could say or do to make this feeling go away for her. When things are really low, advice is generally not helpful.

Another word associated with this hexagram is isolation. People may be all around us, but no help is available. We can only pull through by relying on our inner resources and it is at times like these that we feel most isolated from the deep understanding of Tao.

If we follow the advice of Deng Ming-Dao, who says,” Do not panic; do not waste your time complaining. Just act, and bear, and learn: the human heart can be stronger than fate, even though fate squeezes with the pressure of a thousand fathoms,” we know that we are at least not alone in feeling pain and loss.

Take care, my dear ones. If you are suffering, please know that everything will soon shift as it always does.

Tao Tuesdays: Chapter 63

I got this great photo at www.hetemeel.com!
I got this great photo at www.hetemeel.com!

Who needs Taco Tuesdays when you can have Tao Tuesdays? I am sure that Einstein would have really loved this…

Here is How it Works

I will post a chapter of the Tao Te Ching each Tuesday.  (My version – you can see all of the chapters on my List of Chapters page if you want to work ahead!) I will put a Mr. Linky entry form with it so that you can write your OWN commentary to the chapter on your own blog and then come back here after you post and add your link! Simple! (Please add the DIRECT link to your post about that particular chapter to make it easy for our readers!)

Scattered Life Collective: August 30th

scattered_life_collective

This post was inspired by a blogging adventure  called Scattered Life Collective by Cynthia Lee. It’s a great series and I hope that you will check out the rest of the participants and perhaps even join us!
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current time: 7:27 AM. Saturday morning.

on the menu:  Subway veggie delite sandwich with honey oat bread and sweet teriyaki sauce. Lots of spinach and hot peppers, yum! Well, it isn’t on the menu RIGHT NOW, but later on today because I bought a foot long to have a sandwich for later. Who can eat an entire footlong? I really need to cook more. I’ve been eating much healthier lately, but not cooking as much. Time to get back in the kitchen. It always helps when I do some menu planning, so I think I may do some of that this weekend.

Tao Tuesdays: Chapter 62

I got this great photo at www.hetemeel.com!
I got this great photo at www.hetemeel.com!

Who needs Taco Tuesdays when you can have Tao Tuesdays? I am sure that Einstein would have really loved this…

Here is How it Works

I will post a chapter of the Tao Te Ching each Tuesday.  (My version – you can see all of the chapters on my List of Chapters page if you want to work ahead!) I will put a Mr. Linky entry form with it so that you can write your OWN commentary to the chapter on your own blog and then come back here after you post and add your link! Simple! (Please add the DIRECT link to your post about that particular chapter to make it easy for our readers!)

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