Luck Of The Irish & Dingle Peninsula Walkabout

In my never ending procrastination of grading papers, I’m blogging again today. As promised yesterday, on Saturday, I will continue the series of how to be groovy over forty. However for today while procrastinating I pulled out some more photos of our time in Europe. The following pictures are from one of my favorite trips. We flew into Dublin and then took a train across Ireland to the Dingle Peninsula. We then hiked around the peninsula, walking by day and staying at B&Bs by night. Our merry band consisted of nine kids and four moms. We had a grand time eating, walking, laughing and being silly. Enjoy the pics. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

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Bogus Lies Women Are Told

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So, when I should have been grading essays, I started poking around on the web – specifically looking at getting-fit-over-forty-for-women pages and I started to get REALLY frustrated. I don’t know how many times I ran across pages that stated – “It’s normal to gain weight as you get older.” Or… “When you hit menopause, just expect to put on five or ten pounds – and get comfortable with it.” WHAT???? Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with gaining five or ten pounds. What I take issue with is how – especially for women – it is just considered the norm, the way of things, how the world works.

Well, I’m here to say NUH-UH! You do NOT have to just deal with gaining that extra weight, feeling tired all the time, being grouchy etc., which somewhere along the line became the expected way of life for aging women. I’m here to call bogus on that line of thinking. I’m tired of the school of thought that says: Men get distinguished; women get haggard. Whoever thought up those rules didn’t ask me – and if I didn’t get a vote, then don’t ask me to follow the rules.

Listen up ladies, there are definite proactive things you can do to age beautifully (inside and out), live large and enjoy every minute you have on this planet! I’m pushing 46 and have never felt better. I’m in the best shape of my life and I’m looking forward to what the next 46 years bring – and I’m definitely not going to fade into the sunset. I plan to shake things up a little (or maybe a lot) and perhaps change the world in the process!

My blog over the next several weeks will be installments on how to feel groovy if you’re over forty. I’ll talk about some of the things that have worked for me and some things that have flopped. I’ll give a few recipes along the way and be here to encourage you to ditch all those websites, magazines and people that don’t inspire you to be exactly who you were meant to be while riding this big rock around the sun. We all have a purpose and I want to embolden you to find that purpose no matter what your age. Read on and discover that it’s never too late and age is nothing more than a silly number! Who’s with me?

In part one of this blog series, I’ll talk about something that causes many women to tremble and shake – DIET!!! Okay, I want you to hang with me here. I’m not talking about diet as in; I have to go on one. I’m talking about real life, everyday, three times a day meals. I’m talking about describing a way of eating that will make you feel awesome, lose weight and be saying – “why haven’t I always eaten like this.” Check back on Saturday for this first installment in this series of blogs. Until then: Don’t listen to bad advice. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

From Farms to Firms: The Folly of American Food Corporations

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Well, it’s been a while since I blogged! I don’t know what happened. Life got so busy, that the blog took a back seat for a bit. I have lots of final papers coming in and I’m trying to keep myself from being buried in grading! In my upper division class I have twenty, ten-page-papers to grade and in my entry-level history course, I have forty-nine, five-page-papers to plow through. So far, I’ve had genuinely great papers. I really love my students!

Today I’m posting an excerpt from my recently minted thesis. I write how the transformation of the American landscape from small farms to corporate firms has been detrimental to the landscape and the health of Americans.

Moving food and meat production off of small farms and to huge conglomerate holdings, and into factories, instigated the demise of the bucolic farm and family businesses. For example, currently only a few corporations dominate much of the United State’s food production. In 1900 approximately forty percent of Americans lived on farms. However, today that number has fallen to two percent. Between 1960 and 2000, the total number of U.S. farms decreased from 3.2 million to 1.9 million; yet, the average size of the farm increased by forty percent and productivity rose by an astronomical eighty percent. Furthermore, the diversity of crops has radically decreased, with most farms raising a single commodity crop.

This radical change of the landscape resulted in deleterious consequences for the community. Historian William Cronon writes in his book Natures’ Metropolis: “The traditional butcher shop had [once] very much belonged to its particular place, bound to customers in the immediate neighborhood and farmers in the surrounding countryside. The [food coporations] had none of these ties, not even to the place that had nurtured their own birth.” It no longer mattered where animals were raised or food was grown. The idea of the community revolving around food production became arcane.

Further, the commercial trade in livestock rendered nature and geography moot. As Cronon states, “Time had conspired with capital to annihilate space.” Geography, space and place no longer mattered in industrial farming or ranching. Producers and sellers, in a consumption duet, carved up the landscape in America in a manner that best suited their needs

This paradigm transpired all across the United States, transforming the countryside from small farms to urban spaces surrounded by giant agri-business corporations. These conglomerates enjoyed free rein in mass-producing food at the expense of the environment and nutritional quality of the food, as well as causing a host of other ills. When cities broke free of the geographical limitations imposed on them by food production represents the beginning of many of the food issues that the United States faces today. The distinct separation of city from countryside, combined with the transformation of agriculture from small farms to corporate firms reshaped social and economic spaces in an unprecedented manner.

J.R.R. Tokien once wrote: “There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” It’s time that we heed Tolkien’s wise words. If we all began to place a greater value on food and started denying giant food conglomerates profit, the world would indeed be a merrier place for the land, for communities and most importantly for people everywhere.

I’ll post a recipe later in the week for some phabulous pho that my son and I made a few weeks ago. It’s easy, healthy and delicious. Until then: Don’t buy corporate food. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

Part 2 of How to Start a Groovy Kick Ass Exercise Routine & Roasted Veggie Pasta!

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So, I left off at the last blog motivating you to spend thirty minutes a day moving your body! Hopefully some of you have implemented this or are in the process of getting yourself MOVING for thirty tiny minutes everyday! Way to go!!! On to part 2 of how to have a groovy kick ass exercise routine! I ended the last blog promising you that by taking this thirty minutes, for yourself to move your body, you will find that it seems you actually have more time. Exercise will make you feel so much better, that you will probably get more done! I promise. Really.

You are going to have to trust me for the first month or two. Expert opinions vary on the time it takes for something to become a habit. Some say in as quickly as twenty-one days something can become a habit, but other authorities argue that it can take as long as sixty-six days. I personally think that an exercise habit comes quicker, because you begin to feel so much better when you are moving your body. You can’t have a groovy kick ass life without exercise. So make a commitment right now, write it down and put it on the refrigerator, mark it in lipstick on your bathroom mirror, make it your status on Facebook – put it wherever you need to in order to make sure that you see it. Make it a non-breakable commitment to yourself. Decide to do it and then do it. It doesn’t matter what kind of shape you’re in. If you don’t start somewhere, then you’ll go nowhere.

Okay – enough preaching on committing. You’re now committed to exercising your groovy kick ass body. The question is – what do I do? There are infinite possibilities and this is where the fun begins. This is where you get to explore what makes you tick – what makes you move. There are so many ways to get your body moving. Do you like to walk? Great – do that for half an hour a day. Maybe see if a friend wants to walk with you. When I first started getting in shape, I was lucky enough to have a friend to do it with me. We started out walking about three miles a day and slowly worked up to seven miles a day (about an hour and a half)! Those were great times. It turned out those walking sessions with my good friend were as beneficial psychologically as physically! We solved kid problems, husband problems and world problems. While now we live thousands of miles apart, we are still close! If a walking partner doesn’t trip your trigger, then consider getting a dog – or walking your friends dog. Having someone count on you to get out and get walking is a great way to motivate yourself!

If getting outside isn’t your thing – or you have young children whom you can’t leave – consider going to your local library and checking out their selection of workout videos. Even if the videos are old, that’s okay. There are some really terrific older videos that really work your body. Try all sorts – weights, Pilates, yoga, cardio, cardio step, dance, ballet etc. etc. etc.! There are so many varieties of exercise that if you try them all, you are sure to come across one that really clicks with your style. I tried many videos and DVDs from our library, trying to find the ones that kept me motivated and that I felt like worked. I loved the variety that borrowing from the library afforded me. Not knowing much about yoga, I checked out a Kundalini yoga video with Gurmukh, and this has turned into a passion for me. I do Kundalini yoga almost every day. I also discovered that I loved running. After I moved away from my walking partner, I didn’t enjoy walking by myself, because it took too long to get really good benefits, so I started running in order to speed up the workout. While I didn’t take to it right away, I did discover that running was a really great stress reliever for me.

So whether you decide to run, bike, walk, dance, yoga or whatever gets you moving, make a commitment to DO IT, and stick to it no matter how badly you don’t want to do it. Just start moving and before you know it you’ll be looking forward to this thirty minutes a day. Once you’ve made a habit of moving thirty minutes a day, I challenge you to bump up that time to forty-five minutes a day and then to sixty minutes a day. You’re ideally shooting for that sixty minutes a day mark at least six days a week. But don’t stress about upping your time for now. Just commit to that thirty minutes. Period. No excuses. Unless your vomiting or it’s Christmas. (those are the only excuses for not exercising that work when you’re a groovy kick ass chick). Wishing you all happy exercising! Get your groovy kick ass body moving. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

I LOVE Pasta. This is such a simple and easy, but delicious meal. Use whatever veggies you have on hand, or whatever you like best.

Roasted Veggies & Pasta

Cut up a good bunch of your favorite veggies. My favorite combo is:

1 – 2 cups mushrooms (any kind)

2 Zucchini

1 Eggplant, peeled

1 – 2 fennel bulbs

2 – 3 sweet onions

2 Carrots

1 – 2 sweet potatoes

1 – 2 potatoes

1 head of garlic, cloves peeled & chopped

Combine chopped veggies in large bowl. Add around 1 – 2 TBSP good quality olive oil and 2 – 4 TBSP good quality balsamic vinegar. Add 1 tsp rosemary, 3 tsp thyme, fresh cracked pepper and sea salt to taste. Toss well so veggies are coated with liquid and herbs. Put on large greased cookie sheet. Roast for around 45 – 60 minutes at 425 degrees F. While veggies are roasting, cook up a big pot of pasta. Experiment with different kinds of pasta — try quinoa, rice and corn. Different kinds of pasta all add different tastes to the dish! When pasta is done, drain and put in large bowl. Heat up some marinara sauce on the stove. I used to make my own marinara, but there are so many really good ready made ones on the market, that I rarely make my own any more. I really like Muir Glen. Serve by spooning some pasta in a bowl. Top with roasted veggies and then pour marinara sauce over the top. Eat as much as you wish to help keep your groovy kick ass body moving! Enjoy!

 

How To Start A Groovy Kick Ass Exercise Routine-Part 1

Image                                                  Top of Rendezvous Peak, Jackson, WY

Something that has been a lifesaver for me through all of life’s ups and downs has been exercise. I know some of you are groaning right now and thinking “no no no—not the E word!” Listen up people—the bottom line is you can’t be a groovy kick ass person if you don’t exercise. There is just no way around it. However, before you click my blog closed and declare it bogus, I beg you to just read a little bit further. It might not be as bad as you think. Exercise doesn’t have to be in a sweaty gym with men whose biceps are bigger than their brains. Not to totally slam gyms—if that’s your thing, then more power to you. But, some people just don’t have time to get to the gym—and I get that. I personally don’t like the gym for a variety of reasons, the first of which is that I don’t like to have to get in my car and drive somewhere to exercise. It just feels like too much time and effort and I can’t be bothered to do it.

The good news is that my recipe for exercise doesn’t include even one gym membership and starts with just a decent pair of running shoes. So let’s begin with getting a good pair of shoes. One shouldn’t have to take out a loan to have decent exercise footwear. Contrary to the advice you will get at a running store, shoes don’t have to cost a lot. When I first decided to get into shape, I had a bargain pair of shoes that had some cushion to them, but they were far from designer or expensive. Today, there is the school of thought that the less cushion in the shoes, the better (see Barefoot Running). You can pay an arm and a leg for these non-cushioned shoes (everyone is trying to profit off the latest fad). However, you can go to your closest discount store (TJ Maxx or Ross) and find a fine pair of shoes off the sale rack that will get you started until you decide what kind of exercise works best for you.

So now that we’ve settled the footwear dilemma/excuse, let’s move on to how to get your body moving! Though there are many books, gyms, supplements and TV personalities that would have you believe otherwise, it’s really very simple. The start of a groovy kick ass exercise routine is to just begin moving. You don’t have to run a marathon (though marathons are really groovy and kick ass!) You don’t need a gym. You don’t need expensive supplements. You don’t need anything but a decent pair of shoes and a little motivation. You already have the shoes—and I’m going to give you the motivation.

No matter what your weight, no matter what your situation, no matter how bad you feel about yourself, you are closer than you think to having a groovy kick ass body. There are many who have purposefully made getting in shape seem like a complicated science project. You see, there isn’t any profit in letting people know that getting in shape, while not easy, isn’t complicated or expensive. It is simply a matter of starting to move. And once you start—and keep at it, you will find that you crave that movement because of how it makes you feel physically and mentally—and when you start shedding unwanted weight, well that is just a bonus!

So let’s get started! What I’m going to ask you to do is to commit to moving your body for only thirty minutes a day. If that means you have to get up thirty minutes earlier every morning then that’s what you must do. If it means watching thirty minutes less of TV everyday, then that’s what you must do. If it means taking thirty minutes less of a lunch break then that’s what you do. Somehow, some way you must find thirty extra minutes in your day to commit to moving. Period. For some of you, I understand that this might seem like a monumental task to find this thirty extra minutes in your already overworked, underpaid life. But you must trust me that by carving out this time, everything else in your life will seem to flow a little bit better. By taking this thirty minutes, for yourself to move your body, you will find that it seems you actually have more time. Exercise will make you feel so much better, that you will probably get more done! I promise. Really. Part 2 coming later in the week. Move Your Body. Commit. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

I’m going to post a new recipe later in the week with part two of this blog. Until then eat up your healthy carbohydrates and get you body moving!

Kundalini Yoga and Kick Ass Pasta

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I’ve never been very coordinated. Watching me dance is usually an exercise in comedy and I’m pretty sure I trip more than the average person. I once tried out for a college dance team (what was I thinking?!?!?) and came in dead last out of about 200 girls. But, I’ve always been okay with it and have learned to embrace my maladroit side! However, around ten years ago, quite by accident, I stumbled upon a practice that has helped me gain strength, grace and balance. It has focused my mind, strengthened my body and elevated my spirit. Kundalini Yoga has become my daily companion and I want to share a little bit about it with you today! I recommend giving it a whirl and I hope you find it as uplifting for your entire life as I have.

Kundalini Yoga is sometimes referred to as the master yoga or the umbrella under which all other Yoga lies. It embodies a physical, mental and spiritual workout. If you practice regularly you will have increased flexibility, and improvements in your digestive, cardiovascular and nervous systems. The poses also work on toning your body and building muscle strength. Through one of the breathing exercises called breath of fire, you will most likely expand your lung capacity and strengthen your physical heart.

Kundalini can also help keep you in great health. It bolsters the immune system, which helps you ward off illness and recover quicker when you do get sick. Additionally, Kundalini really helps me focus and have greater mental clarity. This leads to being able to perform daily tasks better and increases creativity and drive. There are some practitioners who even claim that Kundalini helps keep you young! Moreover, the practice has really helped me become a more graceful person both physically and mentally speaking. I love it so much, that I am beginning my teacher training certification this summer!

Contrary to some of the things you read on the Internet, Kundalini Yoga is NOT a religion or a religious practice. Anyone of any religion can practice this Yoga. When you Google “Kundalini Yoga” you come up with all sorts of crazy hits that represent fairly erroneous descriptions of the practice. Many sites will tell you to be aware of “Kundalini Awakening.” These sites then proceed to list all sorts of frightening side effects of an awakening. Kundalini Masters Ana Brett and Ravi Singh say the following regarding reported Kundalini awakenings: “In our combined 40 years of teaching Kundalini Yoga we have never come across anyone who claimed to be in the throes of ‘Kundalini Syndrome’ which wasn’t actually something more prosaic.”

For anyone looking to boost his or her workouts, or just try out something new, I highly recommend trying Kundalini Yoga. I have made gains in strength, flexibility and coordination that I never thought possible. The picture I posted today with the blog is me in wheel pose. When I first started KY, I never thought I would be able to do this pose, but the proof is in the picture…and there I am!!! If you can’t find a class to go to in your town, then I suggest trying out a Kundalini Yoga DVD. There are no better Kundalini DVDs on the market than those by Ana Brett and Ravi Singh. They are a vibrant Kundalini duo who will motivate you and make anything seem possible. For beginners, their DVD Yoga Beauty Body would be a fabulous choice. Visit their site at https://www.raviana.com/index.php to see all their videos and find out more about this wonderfully awesome practice. Do Kundalini Yoga. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

Any exercise makes me HUNGRY!! And, if you’ve been reading my blog long, you know I don’t like to skimp on calories or carbohydrates. Consuming enough of the right kind of food will keep you energized and able to work out on a daily basis. The following recipe is SOOOO delicious. It’s full of vegetables, good carbs and protein from the nuts. I’ve adapted this recipe from Mary & John McDougall’s The Starch Solution. Give it a go after one of your Kundalini Workouts and you’ll be ready to take on anything that comes your way!

Kick Ass Pasta

2 Cups reduced sodium vegetable broth

2 Cups Walnuts

1/3 Cup fresh Italian parsley, packed and stems removed

1/2 Cup fresh cilantro, packed and stems removed

Juice of half a lemon

3 Cloves garlic, crushed

1 TBSP sambal oelek (Indonesian chili paste)

3 TBSP coconut sugar

Dash smoked paprika

Dash of sea salt to taste

16 oz. corkscrew rice pasta

4 Cups broccoli florets

1-1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1-1/2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper

1-pound mushrooms, stems removed and sliced

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1/2-Cup Pine nuts for sprinkling on top

Combine the broth, nuts, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, garlic, sugar and paprika in a blender and blend until really smooth. You might have to let it run for quite a while if your blender isn’t very powerful. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add Rice noodles and cook for 6 minutes. Add the broccoli and peppers and boil for six minutes more. Add mushrooms and boil for 2 minutes. Drain pasta and veggies and put in large serving bowl. Pour the sauce on top and toss well to coat. Serve in bowls and top with a tablespoon or two of pine nuts. Enjoy!