February 27th, 2009 cate
There’s a wonderful post over at The Traveler’s Notebook about looking at the world where ever you happen to be, as if you’re traveling. It’s inspiring and encourages you to see things with a sense of hopeful awe.
“You know the feeling. You’re walking to the market, to the store, to meet a friend, all caught up in the plodding forward of your day…and then suddenly, you take notice of where you are. The light on a wall, the expressions on people’s faces, the feeling of the weather. A distinct sense of place creeps over you, and for a moment you feel like a traveler.
I love this feeling. It is a relief to me; ah, I haven’t forgotten what I learned on the road. How to be fully present in a place.
But it’s rare at home. We tend to get used to our surroundings pretty quickly, especially if they’re surroundings we’ve grown up in or lived in for years. And this familiarity isn’t all bad—our brains, freed up from paying acute attention to the unknown, can focus on other things—writing, school, relationships, work, projects.
And yet sometimes, the desire (Overwhelming! Insatiable! Get me on a freaking bus to Belize!) for that novelty and spark of travel is overwhelming. Sometimes a sense of …” Continue reading
January 24th, 2009 cate
“So you lost your job. Now what? As an employee, you had a daily routine, health insurance coverage, and a regular paycheck. You liked the security—while it lasted. And if you sometimes daydreamed about the freedom of working for yourself, leaving a full-time job never seemed worth the risk.
But now, laid off into a recession and the worst job market in decades—2.6 million Americans lost jobs in 2008, with 524,000 eliminated in December alone—you may be thinking self-employment sounds like the best path out of unemployment. Rather than try to land one of the few open jobs out there, maybe you could work as a freelancer or consultant, at least until the job market recovers. You’re in good company: There were nearly 9 million self-employed workers in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But if you’re among the thousands of unemployed now trying to go it alone, where do you start?
First, step back. Decide what your goals are and how freelancing will help you achieve them, says Pamela Slim, author of the Escape From Cubicle Nation blog and a forthcoming book of the same name. “It’s obviously very easy at the point of being laid off to really come from a position of fear and desperation,” she says. Thinking about long-term goals from the start will keep you grounded and help you determine how to proceed. Once you’re clear on your goals, Slim says, you should ask: “What are the specific skills, knowledge, money, resources, information, and contacts [you] need to bring that picture to life?”
There are plenty of nuts-and-bolts concerns that can overwhelm first-time freelancers, especially those who suddenly lost steady jobs. Chief among them is health care. The health insurance system does not accommodate… “ continue reading
January 15th, 2009 cate
I’ve written several posts about this but I can’t stress enough that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and as the most important meal of the day, it should be healthy. So, why do so many people eat commercial cereals? WHY? WHY people!?? Those of you who eat those mass made cereals, do me a favor, ok? Open the cereal box and stick your nose inside at the top. Now. Take a big SNIFF. Really think about what you’re smelling. To me, it doesn’t really even smell like food. At BEST, it smells like dried dog food. Guess what? There are many common ingredients in cereal and dog food. All that aside, just think about how you’re eating something that isn’t very healthy for you. No matter how many are vitamin fortified, forget about it. They HAVE been fortified but the processing kills most of the nutrients leaving you with nearly nothing. Why do you want to eat THAT for your most important meal? Anyway, here are my suggestions.
Don’t be a lazy bastard.
Gah, you might be thinking, you don’t have to be such a biatch. Sorry. I can’t help it when it comes to important things. So many people I know ALWAYS use the excuse, “I don’t have enough time in the morning to prepare anything, so we (or my kids) eat cereals or protein bars. It’s easy, fast and…” – let me finish that line for you, “CRAPPY FOR THEM.” You can’t argue with me; it’s true. Now, get a conscience and get caring about you and your kids’ health! I just can’t believe I have to tell you this.
Make a yummy nutritious meal for breakfast.
Ok if you HAVE to use that stupid, lame excuse of not having enough time in the morning, then prepare some things the night before so you have little to prepare the next day. Here’s one example (but DO search online for a variety of ideas) Make some whole wheat or multi-grain scones the night before, then in the morning eat them with organic almond butter and some organic jam. Or simply with fruit. Make a quick side of scrambled eggs and voila. Yummy and healthy meal.
Be more organized – Plan for the whole week and vary meals.
This also relates to the previous idea, “don’t be a lazy bastard.” If you plan for the week, your breakfast life will be smooth as peanut butter. During the weekends, plan your meals for every week day. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something different every single day, depending on the tastes of you and your family members, but it should vary to an extent. This is important so your bodies receive a variety of nutrients instead of the very same ones day after day. For example, if you have kids love their home-made organic muesli, allow it Tuesday and Thursday one week, then for the next week allow it Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Vary the kinds of fruit and nuts you add to the muesli. Maybe once in a while add yogurt instead of whole, raw organic milk.
Make Pancakes better.
If you and your family likes pancakes once in a while, instead of using just white flour, add more hearty and healthy flours into the mix like whole wheat flour and buckwheat flour. Also, make sure if you do use white flour, that it is non-bleached and organic. Use organic ingredients as much as possible including eggs, sugar and milk.
Offer all kinds of different spreads for toast.If there’s a die-hard, “gotta have” toast in the a.m., offer different things to spread on it: Peanut butter, coconut butter, almond butter or other kinds of nut butters, tahini, organic butters and cream cheese, organic fruit and jams. Or something completely different: pickled herring, organic cheeses, a poached egg, veggies. How ’bout some organic maple syrup?
The organic tortilla is your friend for breakfast.
I’ve been recently been liking brown rice tortillas but there are many kinds that are good for your health. Tortillas are champions in convenience and you can put all kinds of things into them. Breakfast burritos, veggies and scrambled eggs, bean and cheese, fruity wraps…you will only be limited by your imagination. And if you run out of ideas, look online for more ideas! You don’t have to be alone in this breakfast dilemma.
Let smoothies rule.
There’s nothing more healthy than throwing some fruit, plain yogurt or juice into a blender and make a refreshing, scrumptious and satisfying smoothie. Add some flax seed meal into it and you may become addicted to this excellent meal in a glass. Make sure to vary fruit and ingredients for your smoothies!
Related: Why you shouldn’t eat popular breakfast cereals, More reasons to give up Cereal, especially Corn Flakes! Healthy Organic Breakfasts
January 13th, 2009 cate
Surfing might be right for you
We’re just barely finishing the second week of the new year, and you’ve already gone off your workout. Have you given up completely? Will this be another new year’s resolution categorized as fail? Are you simply pushing forward the same ole resolution year after year because you can’t stick to the workout? Have I made you feel even worse than you already feel? Sorry ’bout that. I really don’t mean to do that because, in fact, I’m here to tell you that you probably gave up on your workout because it’s not the right workout. Really! It isn’t you; it’s the workout. Now, it’s time to figure out what will work for you.
Here’s an example: When I first started taking Tai Chi, I absolutely loved it (and still do) and knew I could stick to that for a long while. It is something that transcends me to another place, a place where I want to be day after day. It made sense in the deepest perspective and it was right for me. I took the class with my friend, Penny, who had the exact opposite reaction to it. She hated it so much, it was nearly torture. Actually, she’d remarked that she’d prefer torture to doing Tai Chi. She would rather have someone cut off her arm or stab her a million times or set her hair on fire than do Tai Chi. I was baffled. How could someone deeply hate something I deeply love so much?
But hey, I’m not one to dwell. I let it go. Tai Chi and Penny were not meant to be partners. End of discussion. And you should do the same if this happens to you. So, if you started your pilates or jazz dance or yoga or whatever you thought would help you keep a regular exercise regime and keep you fit and keep your weight at a manageable level – but gave up, don’t worry. You now need to find what’s best for you.
I don’t know what is best for you; only you and you alone know what is best for you. That said, if you try something and you cannot make a commitment to it, drop it! If you don’t find your “groove” or “flow” or “bliss,” forget about it. It’s as simple as that, BUT! don’t give up. Try other things until you find the right thing. Consider the following. If you can’t get into yoga or tai chi because you find it a little on the boring side or not active enough, try something like dance or aerobics or rock climbing or spinning or biking or hiking or skiing or surfing or soccer or swimming or basketball… Are you more of a mellow, steady and ready for mind and body challenges – kind of person? Maybe you will like martial arts, fencing, dancing the tango or ballroom dancing. Are you more of a social person? Try team sports, tennis, dance classes… You see where I’m going with this right?
There are LOTS of things to try, but it first helps to figure yourself out then go from there. If you get too bored running, obviously, don’t do that activity. If you love nature and being outdoors because it makes you feel more connected to the universe, by all means, partake in activities that involve nature. If you need to be alone have an intense workout incorporating mind, body and spirit, you will most likely be well matched with yoga, tai chi; maybe the Wii Fit is a good fit for you? The most important thing is to NOT give up.
December 18th, 2008 cate
From the nyt:
“Fruits, vegetables and animals can be 100 percent organic. What about people?
In a fascinating experiment — on himself — Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician and author in Danville, Calif., decided to find out. For the last three years, Dr. Greene has eaten nothing but organic foods, whether he’s cooking at home, dining out or snacking on the road.
He chose three years as a goal because that was the amount of time it took to have a breeding animal certified organic by the Department of Agriculture. While food growers comply with organic regulations every day, Dr. Greene wondered whether a person could meet the same standards.
It hasn’t been easy.
“This isn’t a way of eating I could recommend to anybody else because it’s so far off the beaten food grid,” said Dr. Greene, 49, the founder of a popular Web site about children’s health, drgreene.com. “It was much more challenging than I thought it would be, and I thought it would be tough. There were definitely days where there was nothing I could find that was organic.”
Other writers have ventured off the traditional food grid, notably Barbara Kingsolver in “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” and Michael Pollan in “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” But what makes Dr. Greene’s experiment remarkable is the length of time he devoted to it, and his effort to incorporate organic eating into the routines of everyday living. His findings offer new insight into the challenges facing the organic food industry and those of us who want to patronize it.
Organic farmers don’t use conventional methods to fertilize the soil, control weeds and pests, or prevent disease in livestock.
Organic methods often lead to higher costs, and consumers can pay twice as much for organic foods as for conventional products. Last week, the financial advice Web site SmartMoney.com reported that to feed eight people an organic meal of traditional Thanksgiving foods, a shopper would pay $295.36 — a premium of $126.35, or 75 percent, over a nonorganic holiday spread.
To cut back on the cost of an organic diet, Dr. Greene said he had to cut back on meat. “Whenever you go up the food chain, the costs pile up,” he said. “If you don’t eat meat at every meal, if meat becomes more of a side dish than a centerpiece, you can fill the plate with healthy organic food for about the same price.”
Questions remain about whether organic foods are really better for you. The data are mixed. This fall, researchers from the University of Copenhagen reported on a two-year experiment in which they grew carrots, kale, peas, potatoes and apples using both organic and conventional growing methods. The researchers found that the growing methods made no difference in the nutrients in the crops or the levels of nutrients retained by rats that ate them, according to the study, published in The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.
But other research suggests that organic foods do contain more of certain nutrients — almost twice as many, in the case of organic tomatoes studied for a 2007 report in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Dr. Greene said he was inspired to go all-organic after talking to a dairy farmer who noted that livestock got sick less after a switch to organic practices. He wondered if becoming 100 percent organic might improve his own health.
Three years later, he says he has more energy and wakes up earlier. As a pediatrician regularly exposed to sick children, he was accustomed to several illnesses a year. Now, he says, he is rarely ill. His urine is a brighter yellow, a sign that he is ingesting more vitamins and nutrients.
At home, he said, the organic routine was relatively easy. Organic food is widely available, not just at stores like Whole Foods but at traditional supermarkets. He also shopped at farmer’s markets and joined a local community-supported agriculture group, or C.S.A. Because he bought less meat, the costs tended to balance out. And his family (two of his four children still live at home) largely went along with the experiment.
On the road, though, life was more challenging. In corporate cafeterias and convenience stores, he looked for stickers that began with the number 9 to signify organic; stickers on conventionally grown produce begin with 4.
When dining out, he called ahead; high-end restaurants were willing to accommodate his all-organic request. He also found a few lines of organic backpacking food that he could carry with him.
Dr. Greene reached the three-year milestone in October, but his diet is still organic. He hasn’t decided whether to keep going full tilt or to ease up in the interest of cost and convenience. In his latest book, “Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth and Baby Care” (Jossey-Bass), he advocates a “strategic” approach, urging parents to insist on organic versions of a few main foods, like milk, potatoes, apples and baby food.
The biggest surprise of the whole experience, he says, was that many people still don’t know what “organic” means.
“It’s surprising to me how few people know that organic means without pesticides, antibiotics or hormones,” he said. “In stores or restaurants around the country, I would ask, ‘Do you have anything organic?’ Half the time they would say, ‘Do you mean vegetarian?’ ”” [source]