Epic Salad

Salad

TWO BLOGS IN ONE DAY!!!! I’m trying to kick of 2015 with a bang! I teach yoga later today and am about to fix this fabulous salad and decided to share the recipe. I eat a GIANT bowl of this almost every day in one form or another!

My favorite salad of late:

Giant bowl of baby greens

Grape tomatoes cut in half

Minced green olives stuffed with garlic and jalapeños

Raw pumpkin seeds

Raw goat cheese

Four to five dates, pitted and cut into small pieces

Half of a sweet pepper minced small

Half an avocado chopped

Salad dressing: three parts thick balsamic vinegar, two parts brown grainy mustard, one part maple syrup.

Top with crushed brown rice crackers, cracked pepper and a really good coarse sea salt. Heavenly!

Keep Shining. Peace Out!

Happy New Year! Use It Wisely.

Lori Happy New Year

One of the saddest moments I have ever witnessed in my life happened at my mother’s funeral. As with most funerals, it embodied sorrow. A woman, who always seemed to draw the short straw in life, died at the young age of forty-nine, after a five-year onslaught of breast cancer. Her last half-decade encompassed a mixture of operations, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment that often left her tired body listless from the battle. No matter how tragic her life or dark her hours, she knew unconditional love from her mother and father—my granny and granddad. She did so much for them; and, they supported her through her various trials, never asking many questions, always there to help where they could. They lived in the forgotten town of Nashoba, Oklahoma on a farm burrowed deep in the hills of the Kiamichi Mountains. Only those who love this part of Oklahoma knew where to find the “old place” as it was known. Their land encompassed hundreds of acres that followed the path of the Little River. It was a green and beautiful place with fertile soil and open grazing land for their cattle. They didn’t have running water in their house but a well house, outhouse, smokehouse and barn dotted the landscape. They lived about four hours from where we lived, and when we hit the town of Clayton (about 45 minutes from their house) on our drive to see them, it seemed the clock began turning backwards and didn’t quit its trajectory back in time until we arrived at their home, and I was sure we were back to the time of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

They were unassuming folk who worked hard and lived simply. My granddad was a mountain of a man. His tall, lean frame had a solidness to it that seemed unbreakable. People always commented on the enormity of his hands. He could wrap his hands around my waist with room to spare well into my teenage years. His “bigness” represented a fixedness in my mind—until that day at my mother’s funeral. While I recall bits and pieces from the day, one scene will forever be etched in my memory. All the people had filed out of the church and passed by my mother’s casket and only the family remained to pay their last respects. Bringing up the rear of the line, my Granddad walked stoically, tears streaming down his giant, weathered face. I turned around and caught a glimpse of him towering over the casket. And in that instant I saw an unbreakable man shattered by heartbreak. What struck me most in the moment was how small his hands seemed. He reached into the casket and tenderly stroked my mother’s face and cried out “sister, sister (what he always called my mom), why did you have to die—why couldn’t it have been me.” He then took her hand into his own and his hand just seemed so minute, to have shrunk in that very instant, as if death itself reached out from my mother’s coffer and stole his strength, his bigness right from his body. He never really recovered from her death, clinging to his sorrow as if it denoted his only memory of my mother. He always seemed so small to me after the funeral, his robustness washed away with his tear soaked grief.

While this seems like a very sad blog to kick off the New Year, I write about this to encourage people to really embrace the moment. I don’t mean to sound cliché or write yet another blog about seizing the day. However, I do hope to inspire an urgency to make the most of every second of 2015. If you’re over the age of about twenty, you know life is short. I don’t need to remind you of that. As the New Year is upon us, I encourage you to let go of old grief and hurts and pains. Don’t let those offenses reach out from the past and pilfer your strength. We all have giant hands, metaphorically speaking, that have much to do in 2015. Holding on to the past will keep you from fully engaging in the work to be done in the here and now. We all have bigness in us. Use that bigness to the fullest by freeing yourself from all the years that came before 2015. Just decide to let all the previous troubles go and then make it so. Because honestly, you really only have the “eternal now.” Don’t waste it on regrets of the past or anxiousness about the future. Use your 2015 wisely!

Engage in the present. Have an epic year. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

Love, Sweet Love!

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I don’t look at the popular news often. It seems little more than blatant sensationalism and usually chock full of horrific stories and very few facts. Yesterday with the appalling news coming out of the Ukraine, I broke my no-news-looking ban and read the heartbreaking story about the downed Malaysian airliner. I then read about the increased military action in Gaza. I then read about a TGV train crash in France. There followed a seemingly never-ending list of other tragic stories. I closed my computer and felt an overwhelming sadness about the state of world affairs.

It seems incomprehensible to me that the human race still wages war, murders, destroys with the hope of those violent acts somehow bringing about peace. How insane is that? That we could still be raising children who become such hard-hearted adults who see a plane in the sky and think to themselves, “I’m going to bring that sucker down,” boggles my mind. How have hate, malice and revenge continued to dominate on the world stage? Who will stand up to this viciousness? Who will be the voice of reason? Who will turn the tide?

The answer, of course, lies with you and me. It comes from everyday acts of kindness and love. The more you fill your heart with love and let that love overflow into your families, your communities, your states and your countries, the more the tide will turn from malice to kindness, from violence to tenderness, from loathsome words to gentle lyrics, from hate to love. But it must begin with you and me. It will not come from heads of state or from passing legislation in the grand halls of government. It has to start with everyday people doing their part to shine light into darkness and sow seeds of peace in every action of every day.

We cannot just shake our heads and continue the status quo. We must teach our children the way of love and the way of peace. There are those who will laugh and scoff at this blog, saying that I (me, the writer) just don’t understand the way of the world. To those naysayers, I simply send love. We should all send them love. I wholeheartedly believe that the power of love is greater than missiles, more powerful than wars and more persuasive than heads of state. Perhaps love has never won out over time because it has never been implemented on a colossal scale by the masses.

So it is with this writing that I launch “Project Love.” I challenge those who read this blog to begin meditating, praying, sitting quietly, whatever it takes every morning for you to quiet your mind and fill your heart with love before going out into the world. Then with every encounter throughout the day, infuse those interactions with kind words, gentle smiles and peaceful reactions. Begin talking with your kids, your neighbors, your communities about how to bring more love into your everyday lives. Emulate the teachings of the saints and sages of the ages who used kind words to turn away wrath and who turned the other cheek in moments of conflict. Could this change the world? Is it too simplistic and naïve? The only way to find out is to try. For millennia humans have tried the way of war, the way of hate and the way of revenge. I think it’s high time to try a different path: a path with heart, the path of love sweet love.

Turn off the news. Spread love and light. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

Stories and Summer Spud Salad!

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Yesterday while driving around Idaho Falls, I found myself struck by all the people around me – other drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists – and thinking about how every one of those people has a story to tell. Their lives all have a past, a history that has brought them to that moment in their life. I began thinking about how each one of those souls has been through ups and downs – good times and bad – happy moments and sad ones. I then started thinking how everyone likes to tell their story, wants to be heard, validated and to know that they matter.

It really is a simple thing to listen to people and hear their story and give them, however brief it might be, some kind of confirmation that their story has been heard and understood by another human being. It’s such a simple matter to look the Wal-Mart greeter in the eye and ask him “How’s it going,” and then stop for a moment and really listen to his answer. When he replies – “I couldn’t be better – I have a brand new grandson,” you might go a step further and ask if he has a picture, which he invariably will – and then you truly look at the picture and maybe comment on how you’re certain you see a little grandpa in that tiny face! Watch how he lights up – no more than a couple of minutes spent, and someone has been told, by your two tiny minutes time, that they matter.

When you go through the check out line at the grocery store – for heaven’s sake – put away your smart phone and ask the checker how her day is going. When she tells you “I’ve been better – just got some bad news that my husband has been laid off and I don’t know what we’re going to do,” genuinely look her in the eye and tell her something like, “I’m so sorry – that really stinks. I’ll send good thoughts your way, (or I’ll pray for you) whatever your inclination happens to be – or maybe you ask what her husband does and tell her you’ll keep an eye out for jobs, and HONESTLY mean it! You might not have fixed the situation, but you’ve heard her story and you’ve made a commitment to do what you can to help. You never know how those effortless words of comfort might help get her through her day.

Don’t be so plugged into your social media that you unplug from real life. Small acts of kindness and encouragement can change someone’s life. Hearing a stranger’s story and listening more than you talk and giving more than you take can alter the future in ways that you may never know. Listen to somebody’s story today. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

I made this potato salad several days ago and it was FABULOUS. It wasn’t my husband’s favorite because he doesn’t really like vinegary salads. Next time I might cut down on the vinegar and add more olive oil. Adjust it to your taste and enjoy!

Summer Spud Salad

Vinaigrette

2 T white wine vinegar

½ t salt

1 T fresh thyme leaves

1/3 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salad

1-1/2 pounds small potatoes cut into bite size pieces

½ C sliced green onions

2/3 C sliced Kalamata olives (pitted)

3 T sundried tomatoes, chopped

1/3 C flat leaf parsley

1 Can garbanzo beans

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

½ t crushed red pepper

Mix vinegar, ½ t salt and thyme and whisk in olive oil; set aside. Put potatoes in boiling water and cook until just fork tender, about 10 minutes. Fold vinaigrette into warm potatoes.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Chill salad in refrigerator, tightly covered, for one to two hours. Serve in bowls and garnish with fresh thyme sprig. Also very good with a dash of Sriracha on top!

Love Carries The Day!

The last week has been a roller coaster ride of emotions for me. I’ve been to a gorgeous wedding (one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever been to), I’ve been rejected for something that I really wanted (and thought I was going to get), and my son had a scary health moment when he passed out after receiving some vaccinations. On this fine Friday evening, I’m feeling a little spent emotionally. But as I reflect back over the happenings of the past week, I’m struck by how much love played a huge part in each of these occurrences. And, it makes me realize how, really, love never fails and love is all that matters. Since it’s the most fun, I’ll start with the wedding.

The wedding of my nephew and his beautiful bride took place on a fine (if not windy) New Mexico evening. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding (and I’ve been to many) where I was surer that the bride and groom were totally and completely committed to each other. This one will last. Mark my words. They exuded adoration with each drawn breath and with each gaze into each other’s eyes. It was more than overblown infatuation. Anyone in their presence felt the love and couldn’t help getting caught up in the moment. The whole event left everyone smiling and radiating back the love that these two brought to their vows. I know I sound sappy. But trust me, this wedding was special! Love carried the day.

Now, onto my rejection, though I’d really rather not talk about it. I won’t go into the finite details, but suffice it to say that I really, really wanted something and honestly thought I was going to get it. I was more than a little disappointed when the rejection came. I’m going to be honest, I’m not used to rejection. I cried. I cried some more and then I realized, I had to tell people who were waiting to hear, that I’d been rejected. Then I cried again because I wasn’t relishing telling people that I’d been turned down. But, I swallowed my pride and began sending out texts informing people of my rebuff. Within seconds texts came back with the most encouraging, the sweetest and the most loving messages. “It’s their loss, they don’t know what they’re missing, this just means something better is on its way.” The most endearing texts and messages came from my sons. My big, brawny, stoic oldest son simply wrote, “That’s okay mom, we still love you.” My youngest son called and began in his sunny way telling me all the reasons that this was really for the best and how much he loved me! I then proceeded to cry some more because I realized that no matter what I did or didn’t do I was loved. There were no strings attached to the love from my friends and family. Love carried the day.

Finally, the scariest parenting moment I’ve ever had. My son Jackson had to get some vaccinations today. On the way home he passed out while I was driving. His head was lolling, his eyes were open and rolling back in his head and his tongue was halfway hanging out. I stopped in the middle of the road and had his head in my hands, yelling “JACKSON, JACKSON, CAN YOU HEAR ME, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU. YOU HAVE TO COME BACK!!!” In that scariest of moments, when he was simply gone and vacant, all I wanted him to know was how much I loved him. He came to on my way to the emergency room. So we went back to the immunization clinic instead, as it was closer. Turns out this is fairly common with teenagers and vaccines. Who knew? In those interminable seconds when Jackson was passed out, even in the midst of the fear, I knew that it was love that I wanted him to remember and come back to. Love carried the day.

Really, at the end of the day, love is all that matters. It supersedes the trappings and fanfares of weddings, it sustains in times of disappointment and it trumps the most fearful of situations. When all else is stripped away, love will be there to get you through. Tell your friends and family you love them. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

I promise to have more recipes soon. Until then love yourself and love your neighbor!

Banish The Bogus—Embrace The Beautiful You!

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Well —– that was a REEAALLLLY long break between blogs. I honestly don’t know what happened. The end of school rush unexpectedly took up A LOT of time. Trying to grade essays, research papers, going to end-of-year parties, walking in graduation and then taking a break from working and writing for a week or two – and the time just flew by. But I’m back and plan on trying to blog at least once (if not twice) a week. I begin Yoga teacher training this weekend where I’ll be going to California once a month for a long weekend for six months. I also have some other travel plans, but I hope to keep the blog going – and write about the teacher training experience and also pen some ideas to help motivate you to live large!

When last I left you, I promised to write about how to be totally awesome if you’ve passed the age-forty milestone. I initially thought the next blog-installment in this series would be about diet. But, I’ve changed my mind and instead of writing about physical food, I’m going to talk about mind food – about how what you think and what you tell yourself on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis can make the difference between feeling like you want to drown your woes in coffee and chocolate or experiencing a fabulously kick ass existence! So get yourself a hot beverage (preferably an herbal one) and settle in for a lecture Lori style. This should be good – my kids tell me I am THE BEST at lectures. I’ll try not to drone on – but listen up and take notes if you want to shine and be an amazingly groovy post-forty woman (or man!).

First and foremost, you must quit telling yourself lies. You absolutely have to cease and desist from using derogatory mantras about yourself. Most people – women in particular – use such negative language about themselves. You know the drill – you try to put on a pair of pants and they’re too tight and you immediately say –“Ugh, I’m so fat!” Or you look in the mirror and say, “Wow, I look so haggard and old.” Or you take the wrong street when you’re in a hurry and you say, “Why did I come this way; I’m such an idiot.” You. Must. Stop. That. This. Very. Moment. In. Time. Period.

In reality, using this kind of language represents nothing more than a MONUMENTALLY bad habit. And, I suspect that women, in particular, think that using language such as this makes them appear humble and/or self-effacing. But that characterizes nonsensical thinking. Using language like this about yourself equates to abusing your beautiful self. When you continually let disparaging refrains run through your head, you injure yourself in a profound manner.

When your daily monologue tells and re-tells yourself how fat, ugly, old and stupid you are, you increase the feelings of worthlessness inside yourself. Tell yourself an idea long enough and your brain endeavors to make that idea so.

This idea is not original with me. My dad, who was a psychiatrist, used to tell my brother and sisters and myself, when we would say something negative that: “The words you say go out of your mouth, into your ears and deep into your mind, where your brain then works on bringing those words into reality.” I’m not going to lie; I used to think he was a bit off his rocker. I mean, when you’re twelve-years-old and throwing up, you really don’t want to have someone tell you to just say that you are well and it will be so! However, the older I get, the more I believe that there is validity in this theory. At the very least, I most definitely believe that negative words and thoughts serve only to exacerbate problems in our lives.

The good news is that you can (and must) break the negative-thought habit.

I challenge you to carry a notebook with you wherever you go for five day’s time. Each time you have a less-than-loving thought about yourself, I want you to stop what you’re doing and write down all those negative thoughts that run through your head. That’s right – every single unkind personal thought that comes to mind, you stop and jot it down. I don’t care if you’re in the grocery store, at church, at school, at your friend’s house, in bed at night or on stage, stop immediately and write it down. I think most of you will be surprised by how many pages you fill in five days.

At the end of five days, look back over your notes and see all the ways in which you’ve abused yourself. Pick out the phrases that you seem to use most often. You’re going to take those oft-used mantras and turn them into positive aphorisms. For instance, if you found yourself saying, “I am so fat,” you’re going to write down in a different notebook, “My weight does not dictate my level of happiness” and/or “I have the opportunity to learn how to be healthy.” If you frequently told yourself, “I am so stupid,” write down in your new notebook, “I am a brilliant person who always has good ideas.”

You’re going to rid yourself of these horrifying declarations once and for all. After you’ve perused your notebook, I want you to go into your backyard and put those pages in your grill or in a sturdy pot and burn them. While all those negatives burn away, I want you to say, “I now only think good thoughts about myself.” If you aren’t someplace you can burn your pages, just tear them into little bitty bits and dump them in the trash. This might sound a little crazy, but physically getting rid of all the bad things you say about yourself can actually be quite cathartic. As the pages burn or get ripped into tiny bits, imagine all those negatives inside you burning to ash or being ripped up and floating out of you.

Now the work (and fun) starts. The two most common things that you told yourself during your five days, I want you to write the new aphorism that you’ve replaced it with on your bathroom mirror. Every morning when you get up, while you’re showering or making the coffee, I want you to say the new mantra over and over and over – preferably out loud, but at least in you head. If you hear the old negative mantras going through your head, I want you to start catching yourself and imagine those old-out dated lies being burned up. Then immediately say the new positive affirmation. Tell yourself how awesome you are over and over again. This is not conceit. You can only help others and realize your full potential when you truly love and accept yourself.

The reality is that you are a beautiful, unique, incredible, loving, wonderfully awesome being. There is no one else on earth like you. Many have forgotten that they embody a groovy kick ass human – no matter your age, weight, color or creed. I’m here to help you remember. Don’t be mean to yourself. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

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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