What IS Health?

I have been doing some deep thinking as of late. Thinking about quality of life in regard to health. What is health, I ask myself. How does my idea of being healthy differ from how others define this state. This forced me to dig a bit deeper as to what being healthy means. I came to the conclusion that being healthy is a compilation of many things. It is not as simple as “feeling good” since that state can be attained by unhealthy means in some cases. So, what have I come up with in regards to the definition of being healthy?

 

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”~World Health Organization, 1948

Proper fuel:  Without proper nutrition we become run down quickly and in some instances cause much more harm than good. I am of the train of thought that the closer to nature that we eat , and supplement, the more our body has to work with. When we pollute ourselves with junk food, our body spends time trying to deal with the invading pollution instead of necessary maintenance and renewal. By ingesting mainly quality fuel we are being diligent in preventing many conditions that are food-related.

 

Movement:  Just move it! The more I move, the better I feel. It’s not rocket science.  Every little bit counts. I move a lot as a gardener when I am at work so I count these hours as part of my physical fitness time. I certainly feel way better lifting heavy objects, digging, planting, dragging, stretching, and so much more than I do when I am being stationary. Hard work is good for the body…and the soul.

 

Brain games:  Exercising the brain is essential to being alert and “with it”. Reading a lot keeps my brain active as well. No fluff reading here – I want solid material not the literary equivalent of a wet paper bag. I would hope that word and math games assist my brain in being in great shape. I would like to think of my brain as pumped, not limp.

 

image courtesy of Yahoo images

 

Spiritual practices:  I consider myself a spiritual, not religious, individual. Spirituality is unique to each individual and very personal.  I am not a fan of debate in this area for this reason. Spirituality is not about foisting your beliefs on someone else, it is about believing in something bigger than yourself and being a part of the flow of existence.  Being spiritual is instrumental to great health, I think. It encourages us to not be solely self-focused which can become detrimental to many other areas of our lives. Being in Nature helps me feel centered spiritually. All around us there is incredible life  going on in nature instinctively.

 

Positive thinking:  This is one of the greatest predictors of  being truly healthy. How we view everything around us or the things that affect us can either cause negative, stress-inducing reactions or positive  response. Stress = discomfort. No thank you! You know me – I love to try to stay positive!

 

Love:  Yes, I said love. We kind of throw the word around a lot. For instance “oh, I love that dress!” Not exactly what I had in mind when I said love. Love connects us to others through emotional channels. When we open our hearts by loving another we feel positive and joyous. Love can also be felt as a peaceful acceptance of existence. Allowing our soul to be in the moment and our thoughts to be gentle and accepting without being  judgmental. When our thoughts are bathed in loving energy we allow ourselves  to love and be loved with less resistance.

 

“The power of love to change bodies is legendary, built into folklore, common sense, and everyday experience. Love moves the flesh, it pushes matter around…. Throughout history, “tender loving care” has uniformly been recognized as a valuable element in healing.” ~Larry Dossey

Down-time: No person is an island, or something like that. If we are constantly running around stressing ourselves out we are not allowing ourselves the down time that we need…or deserve. I am not suggesting that becoming a couch potato is where it’s at, I am merely promoting some time spent relaxing.

 

Friendship: Feeling connected with others is a wonderful feeling. When we surround ourselves with others that are caring, fun individuals we gain the great benefit of camaraderie. The spirit of friendship  is a healthy state to find yourself. It is therapeutic. Next time you are feeling stressed out, have a friend or two over and be silly…you will feel like a weight has lifted. There is a special comfort zone with a fabulous friend that you just won’t find anywhere else. Your health depends on close friendships with others.

 

Life-long friendship is a gift.

 

Play: Please include play into your personal health regime.  Jump in a pile of leaves, go bowling, see if you can still jump rope like you used to, have a snowball fight…whatever you feel like at the moment. Laughter keeps us youthful and in touch with who we are. No need to be all stiff all the time – smiling and laughing makes everyone more beautiful; inside and out.

 

Yes, that’s me having fun, fun, fun!

 

In my mental quest for my personal definition of health, these are the areas I feel are imperative. I am certain that more will be added along my life path and my hours of mental musings. So, enjoy great health by giving your body, mind and spirit the respect they deserve. Health isn’t merely being free of disease – it is about living each moment to its fullest and being proactive!

 

 

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”  – Mahatma Gandhi

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Rainy Day Play

There is something so therapeutic about waking up to the sound of rain. The softness is enveloping. This morning was one of these peaceful awakenings. It  has set the stage for a wonderful day.

My usual cup of strong coffee with a touch of cinnamon was accompanied this morning by a big bowl of homemade applesauce that I made yesterday from local organic apples with, of course, loads of cinnamon. Yum. After breakfast, my daughter and I spent about half an hour or so braiding each others’  hair for fun while watching old episodes of Charlie’s Angels. We have been working our way through the original series which came out in 1976. We are enjoying and having lots of laughs over the clothing choices of the 70’s. I forgot how popular jumpsuits were!  Not that I was into fashion much in the 70’s since I was only 3 when the show premiered.  After the braiding, which we removed afterwards, we got down to business – and wrestled! Everyone should wrestle for fun at least once a month. It’s hilarious, as long as you are being mindful of your opponent. We  always end up in fits of giggles and trying to catch our breath. Good times. Playing is something that as adults we think we should forget about and be serious all the time. Until I heard Deepak Chopra once say that everyone should remind themselves to play, I forgot how important it was to just let go and stop being serious about everything. Life is meant to be enjoyed at the same time as being productive so why not relax a bit and have some laughs! If you know me personally you will know that I love a good laugh. Laughter is like sunshine for the soul.

Once we got ourselves together, it was time to shift into constructive mode. We had to SHOP! Yes, I said shop. I am not a “shopper” in general. Walking around slowly in mobs of people under fluorescent lighting is excruciating to me. If I have a purpose, such as I had today, I am fine. We executed our list quickly and efficiently so that we could stop into the local Greek Festival on our way home for some lunch. This is where we,yet again, gave thanks for a rainy day since the food line up was short and speedy. A parking spot was quickly located close to the festival so we could jump out, run to the food tent, then run back to the car to take our lunch home.

At present I am taking part in eating only whole foods and have eliminated wheat, dairy, and sugar for the month of September. This posed to be a challenge as I salivated over the thought of spanikopita, greek salad with feta and baklava. Groan. I did bend the rules today fellow “whole food poutine detox” friends. I ate a container of greek vegetarian rice with vegetables. It was perfectly cooked rice in a vegetable broth with cooked vegetables. No cheese, no wheat and no sugar – but there was rice and salt.  I am not beating myself up over this since I only have access to this dish once per year. For the record, it was amazing. If you would like to know more about the group and what we are participating in simultaneously while giving each other support, check out the Facebook page called The Whole30 Clean Month Poutine Detox.

In addition to yesterday’s post about the changing of the seasons I noted something interesting as I was in the grocery store this morning. The pull of autumn is definitely strong. My arms were  full of apples and squash. I’m in full Fall mode. Just thought I would share that in case you happen to be interested. I think a butternut squash soup is in order for dinner on this rainy near-autumn day.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”   – George Bernard Shaw

Processing

I had no idea the impact that visiting Las Vegas would have on me both physically and mentally. In a strange way, I guess it has affected me spiritually as well. I suppose you could say  that  I had a cushy  upbringing and my only reality was the one I was in – like so many other people I only saw things from my perspective. Yes, I am compassionate. Sometimes overly so to the detriment of myself. I have tended to put others first to not create waves too often in my lifetime. I have been focusing on respecting my own Being over the last couple of years and have made huge strides in allowing myself to be joyful and fulfilled without guilt or selfishness. This has taken a lot of focus and strength. Learning to say “no” was paramount in my forward movement of personal growth. A person can take on too much and stress themselves out needlessly when “yes” becomes the dominant response. Call me crazy but I feel very empowered when I say no when it is necessary. The trick is not being reckless with “no’s” but to use them wisely, not foolishly just for the sake of it.

It has taken me approximately a week to process my reactions and actions as well as absorb what I have learned while in Vegas. I figured I would just carry on my merry way and come home the same person. WRONG! My eyes have been opened to another reality that I had never really inspected thoroughly before. Another lifestyle choice that was not like mine. The world of the Eternal Party. I love a good party just like the next person but I must admit that there can be too much of a good thing.

 

The puzzling part of  this trip was how overwhelmed I felt once I got home. I was  bombarded by so much in a week’s time that I needed to allow myself to come back down to reality. I am not sure how else to explain what I was feeling. I learned a great deal about myself in the process. Here are a few of the things I discovered in my week of processing.

  • I reaffirmed that I love to live a fairly simple existence.
  • I prefer moderate temperatures. Not extreme heat that sucked every bit of moisture from my flesh or the polar opposite of shivering in overly air-conditioned buildings. How is a woman supposed to know what to wear in these conditions?
  • Home grown and home-made (with love) food is essential to my well-being.
  • my sister that was one of my travelling companions is, and always will be, one of my best friends. I am very thankful we are a part of each other’s lives.
  • gambling is of no interest to me
  • smoking repulses me. Not the person smoking, per say, but the act of smoking and putting out noxious air into the surroundings. I apologize if you are offended by this statement but I am entitled to my opinion.
  • there is no excuse for behavior that encroaches on other people’s safety or well-being. We are all equal here on Earth…get over yourself if you think you are better than anyone else. This is not directed at anyone in particular, just a random observation.
  • I have been vegetarian in many variations (vegan, raw foodist, ovo-veg, lacto-veg) over my lifetime. Eating any other way seems unnatural to me now. Why is this still so hard to grasp for restaurants?
  • I love to travel but I really love to be at home.
  • to love generously and without judgement. We all have “stuff” we are dealing with. This is an ongoing project.
  • Shaklee supplements are essential not only while at home but while travelling too. Thanks to my good friends that insisted I keep up my regime.
  • dehydration sucks
  • there is too much perfume and air “freshener” products in this world. The air is not fresher because chemicals are swirling around in our nostrils. If something smells bad it needs to be dealt with – easy peasy.
  • sleep is vital
  • walking is good. I am thankful for a fully functioning pair of legs. I won’t take them for granted any more and worry about what they look like. They work!

 

The Shaklee Convention was the main focus of my trip. It filled me to overflowing with incredible information. So much so that I think my brain shorted out and was in need of time to absorb and filter all the knowledge that was packed in. My brain is back to functioning properly with all this new information sorted and filed where it should be. I must send a big shout out to all of those at Shaklee head office that put together this fantastic convention. You all are amazing!

 

This trip to Las Vegas began as a time to focus on growth in my business as well as a vacation. I came out on the other side of this experience with much more than I had expected. I have evolved in ways I never knew I would. I thought I had already made peace with my existence and the life I am living but I gained a new sense of  “belonging” within myself that was deeper than I thought possible. Belonging to Myself and loving it!

 

 

“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.”  – Rachel Naomi Remen

Happiness is Coffee, Croissants and Friendship

This  morning started perfectly. I slept in late (for me) than lazily slid out of bed with the intention of heading outside. Although, a detour to the kitchen to make coffee was at the top of my priority list.

I was waiting for today to break in  my new bistro coffee cups that I received for my birthday via courier.  The mystery package appeared at my door yesterday and after wrestling with the plastic envelope-bag thingy it was packaged in I found, lovingly packaged within, a beautiful bistro cup and saucer set that is a perfect match to all my dishes.  It was sent by two women that I have an incredibly strong bond with. These dear friends I think of more as sisters than friends. We have become an incredible force; a triangle. We are bound together by some invisible force that is much stronger than each of us individually. The friendship between women that respect and truly love each other is a miraculous thing.  There are no catty words…ever. Only the desire to watch each other  succeed and be the absolute best that we can be. I thought of them with each sip of my morning coffee.

I have to say that this is my all-time favourite breakfast. Fresh fruit, a warmed croissant and a hot cup of coffee with lots of soy milk… mmm… it certainly isn’t a picture of perfection in terms of health promoting breakfast choices but I treat myself every so often this way. We all need to enjoy life and moderation is essential. Besides, a treat isn’t a treat if you eat it regularly. Lingering over my favourite breakfast on a beautiful summer morning made it taste even better.

As I slowly sipped my coffee I watched the cedar trees blow in the breeze. I enjoyed the soft, coolness of air on my skin. After so many days of scorching heat and humidity, the comfortable temperature this morning was very welcome. The birds were singing happily and the squirrels were going berserk as usual, jumping from tree to tree. It was intriguing to watch life go on around me, knowing that I was in no way involved other than to be a bystander to their existence.

Suddenly, out of nowhere appeared a visitor that I haven’t seen in a few weeks. The rabbit. I have been noticing that someone has been munching on my onions, bush beans and carrots but haven’t caught anyone in the act. The rabbit was very wily this morning. He (I’m assuming it is a he) made his way carefully around the lawn stopping to nibble on clover in the grass periodically, never once setting foot within the garden. Although, I thought I caught him looking at me from the corner of his eye a few times to see if he was still under surveillance. He scooted off under the neighbour’s fence after a few minutes, thank goodness. I didn’t want to have to set down my coffee to chase him away!

After breakfast I made my way into the garden to weed. I found it therapeutic today. Thinking of nothing but plucking the crabgrass from the soil and tossing it in the bucket. Nobody interrupting me or my thoughts of  nothingness. It was lovely. I got sidetracked a few times and never did finish weeding but I am getting there.  Tomorrow is another day.

Today started with warm thoughts of  cherished friends that has shaped my day into one bursting with appreciation for camaraderie , love and laughter. Thank you ladies.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  – Marcel Proust 

Sunshine and Lollipops

April showers bring May flowers. What a great saying. April has blessed us with blossoms galore and a frenzied pace from nature. My only concern is what the month of May has in store. Hopefully my daughter’s sing-song voice is foretelling what May will bring when she sings “Sunshine, lollipops…rainbows every day. All things wonderful are…coming our way!”
I am in my “happy place” right now. Even flies buzzing past make me smile inside. Everything in nature is on a mission. Have you noticed how busy every species seems to be? Every life form is awake and kick-started into high gear. I love it! At the risk of sounding like I’m giving myself a pat on the back (even though I do feel it is a good thing to do that occasionally), I’ve been very productive this past weekend. I have caught the Spring fever too!
Yesterday I supplemented my new garden with more soil and organic matter. It stills needs more compost which I plan on adding the next sunny day we have. I will be opening up our compost cage to utilize the rich mixture that has been decomposing for the past few summers. I have taken care to only add items that would benefit the mixture unlike what our municipal program considers compostable. Everything “good” goes in my compost pile while everything else that the city deems suitable to compost, but I don’t, goes into my green bins to go to the municipal maggot pile. My only reservation about opening up my compost cage is that I have convinced myself that some type of critter has made a home near the back of the warm, earthy pile. The last thing I want next week’s blog post to be about is how I was sprayed by a skunk while amending my garden! It may be entertaining but I’m not interested.
I have also been baking like a fiend lately. With the peanut-free rule at school I make sure we are well stocked with lunch bag items. I feel guilty putting store-bought, processed unfood into my children’s lunch bag. I feel homemade with love will always trump factory produced “what-is-it”. Please do not think that I am being judgemental of those that put store-bought snacks in their children’s lunch bags. That is your decision, not mine. I choose not to as this works for me and my family.
I find baking to be very therapeutic. We all need a place where our mind can go to do nothing but focus on the moment. Baking is this place for me. As is gardening, lawn mowing (it helps that I can’t hear anyone yelling “Mom!” while I’m mowing the grass), meditation (no, not medication), yoga, reading, and time spent with my friends. A break from inner turmoil is essential. I’m saving myself a bundle on therapy with all the therapeutic activities I employ as part of my day-to-day existence. I should be as calm as a cucumber by now. Or is it as cool as a cucumber? I am neither cool nor calm and I’m OK with that.
I have a few projects started in my cranium and am looking forward to working on them. My new garden can’t be planted for a while yet and to stop myself from jumping the gun I plan on utilizing my time effectively instead of just staring at the patch of soil in my yard.
My soul is singing with the awakening in Nature. I am like a sponge sucking in the beauty that Mother Nature is offering our eyes and minds right now. Take a few moments to just “be” with nature to listen and feel the movement and energy that surrounds us all.
Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.
-Jim Rohn