Sick of Sitting All Day

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L.A. County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

When I graduated from the University of Delaware in 1992, I had two goals:

– Get an active job, preferably outdoors
– Buy an F-150 pickup truck

I applied for a park ranger position. Didn’t get it. Life happened and, twenty-four years later, I am an editor who sits all day and drives a Mini Cooper.

My young self is pretty fed up with all this sitting. I bet the kid in you is too.

This is the year that I incorporate fresh air and movement into my work life without bailing on the writing and editing work that I love. And I don’t mean a standing desk.

(The truck is still open to debate.)

Any of this resonate with you?

Before You Slather On The Sunscreen…

ca. 1910, USA --- Two women in swimwear enjoy a tandem bike ride down the beach with parasols in hand. --- Image by © Underwood & Underwood/Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

ca. 1910, USA — Two women in swimwear enjoy a tandem bike ride down the beach with parasols in hand. — Image by © Underwood & Underwood/Underwood & Underwood/Corbis

OK, sometime long ago we decided that sunscreen was THE way to guard against the damage of sun overexposure. Looks like it’s time to rethink that decision.

And we are! In LA, I routinely see people using umbrellas and parasols.

But that’s not the only alternative. Check out this link: http://www.sunwarrior.com/news/natural-sunscreen-alternatives/

Hooked on sunscreen? I was, too. But every time I turn around there’s a different reason not to use sunscreen. It’s nutty.

Here’s a snapshot from my consumer POV:

  1. Sunscreen may prevent cancer in one way, but may contribute to cancer in another way.
  2. It blocks the skin from fully absorbing the vital nutrient Vitamin D. (Jury is still out on whether it blocks it at any significant level.)
  3. And now we know that oxybenzone (key ingredient in major sunscreen brands) is playing a big part in the destruction of coral reefs.
  4. More natural sunscreen brands are iffy. Some users report sunburns when using more natural brands. Plus, I can’t take the sticky, white residue.

But getting skin cancer is still bad, right? Yup! Seems like we need other sun protection besides sunscreen.

foodbabe.com: How To Stop Poisoning The Neighborhood Children On Halloween

OK, I know the headline by The Food Babe is intense, and maybe you are gripping your bag of Snickers in horror. But I think the article is worth a read.

How To Stop Poisoning The Neighborhood Children On Halloween

If you don’t know Vani Hari (The Food Babe), she’s leading an army of health-minded consumers who are impacting real changes at companies like Chipotle, Subway and Kraft.

I’ll admit that I’ve turned a blind eye in the past when handing out candy and also “allowed” my son to eat a couple bars from his haul.

But the truth is that the ingredients of popular Halloween candy are SCARY (not in the fun way) for anyone, any day of the year.

Take a look at the Food Babe’s site, most notably the handy comparison chart with healthy alternatives.

Candy-Image

The Path to Inner Peace: Soften That Which Is Hard

Butter

Okay, get your mind out of the gutter. Elevate, people. I’m talking about how to handle situations when you are stressed, angry or in a battle of wills.

The idea of “soften that which is hard” is to take a moment and identify where in your body that “hard” feeling is originating. Then take a deep breath and, like you’re melting butter, soften that part of your body, that emotion, that idea, that willful position.

The softening may not eradicate the underlying pain or issue, but it can help to create space and a new, more peaceful way of dealing in real time. And it can help to NOT make matters worse.

I’ll share a recent example. Here’s the set up:

  • I am on my way to a doctor’s office for a routine visit
  • Traffic was heavier than anticipated; I’m running 5 minutes behind
  • I remember parking is cash only upon entry; I don’t have cash
  • I find a Citibank and get cash
  • While pulling out of the Citibank lot, another driver honks at me and rudely motions for me to get out of her way – although I had the right of way

I’d been holding it together fairly well. But now I’m pissed. I pull out of the lot and proceed to curse a blue streak about that woman and her car and the town that we’re in and then back to the woman and her face. (To myself in the privacy of my Mini Cooper.)

This is me taking life way too seriously.

My family has a history of taking life too seriously…and of having heart disease early in life.

“Soften that which is hard, Laura.”

I pulled over and took a deep breath, smoothing out “that which is hard.” It’s remarkably easy to do. The hardness inside of me – in the center of my chest – was about EXPECTATIONS. I expected things to go differently and when they didn’t I got pissed off. Mad at myself and the world. Pissed off enough to shoot my cortisol levels through the roof. I expected myself to be more put together. To get to the doctor’s office with ample time, with cash flowing out of my pocket. I expected the traffic on the 405 to part for me like the Red Sea. For that woman to yield happily to me.

But that didn’t happen. And that’s called “life.”

So, I breathed. And softened that feeling in my chest. And then I started to laugh. At myself and at life. And at the fact that I was rushing to an appointment where I routinely sit for 35 minutes in the waiting room then another 20 minutes in the ice cold examination room.

Nothing good comes of rock hard butter. Soften it up.

I want to attribute the quote “soften that which is hard” to the beloved Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron, as it was shared with me by a very energetic yoga instructor. But I cannot find this quote in references online. I’ll keep trying.

Body Talking? Mine too.

itsallinyourhead-e1369076339755So I got Strep Throat over the weekend. My son had it six weeks ago – and had a bonus of an allergic reaction to the antibiotic. Soooo…I decided to take the natural route in fighting it myself. Now, I could spend the next 10 minutes extolling the virtues of “the gargle,” but I’m not going to. (I basically gargled with warm salt water, then bee propolis spray, then apple cider vinegar and took lots of vitamin A and D.)

What’s more interesting to me is the question of whether or not physical ailments are linked to mental and emotional states. Like, specific ones. I mean it makes sense, right? For what seems like before my time, people accepted that you could get an upset stomach when you were emotionally upset. Or stress and tension could cause a headache. So why wouldn’t this mind/body connection be true for other ailments?

I’ve been a long-time admirer and “wonderer” of Louise Hay. Maybe you have too. If you don’t know her work, you must pause and investigate right now.

Dubbed “the closest thing to a living saint” by the Australian media, Louise Hay is also known as one of the founders of the self-help movement. Her first book, Heal Your Body, was published in 1976, long before it was fashionable to discuss the connection between the mind and body…Louise compiled a reference guide detailing the mental causes of physical ailments, and developed positive thought patterns for reversing illness and creating health. This compilation was the basis for Heal Your Body, also known affectionately as “the little blue book.”

So, in following Heal Your Body, throat problems are linked to stifled creativity and not speaking up.

Wouldn’t you know THAT IS TRUE! I am two weeks in to not talking about something (as I shared in Let’s Talk About Not Talking). Did I do myself in by shutting my own mouth? Quite possibly. I’m not sure.

I also had been feeling a bit stifled creatively because I’d been sorting out my next career venture, sitting in the “don’t know” hot seat.

All of this to say…hey, REFLECTION is key! Even if you think that Louise Hay’s work is hokey, when isn’t it a good idea to reflect?

And during all that reflection, I invite you to take a moment to give a big THANK YOU and HUG to your own body. It endures. It pushes through. It deserves a break today. Thanks, beautiful bod!

Funny mom moment: When my son came down with Strep Throat, I kept asking him, “Is there something that you want to tell me? Is there something that you’re NOT telling me?” He just kept looking at me suspiciously.

But I’m reminded that my mom used to ask me those questions fairly often…and I also had Strep Throat fairly often as a child. Interesting…maybe she had an early edition of Heal Your Body!

Are You Having A Laugh?

This post is brought to you by the letter “N”.

Are you having a laugh? Laughter cures all ills…said my Granny Irene and science-types have the studies to prove it.

From Helpguide.org:

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Good spirited, clever humor is where it’s at. I find it hard to believe that we can fully reap the benefits of laughter by laughing at other people’s hardships or misfortunes (although it’s cheap and easy at times).

So, here’s a good, clean laugh that even adults will enjoy from a pair of our modern masters: Ricky Gervais and ELMO.

Sesame Street: Celebrity Lullabies with Ricky Gervais

I’m fairly certain Granny would have loved Ricky Gervais…and you might too. Go have yourself a laugh…

Beware of Ye Wee Mixed Nuts

nuts3Can we talk about nuts for a minute?

I love ’em. Everyone does, right? So crunchy. A great on-the-go snack. Thoroughly convenient. I pick up a bag and snack on them, just a handful at a time, throughout the day. This girl has a low blood sugar phenomenon that will bring me to hangry in record time.

A few almonds or walnuts drop to the bottom of my handbag? Perfect! Secret stash for when things get really dicey.After all, I don’t want bad things to happen to people that I love. Just brush off the mini-dust bunnies.

Life is good until one day it occurs to me that these little suckers are the reason I can’t fit into my slim-fit jeans.

Here’s something shocking:

If you consume approximately 3 oz. of almonds each day without accounting for them in your meal plan, you can gain 1 lb. in a week. Even though the fat in almonds is primarily healthy fats, eating 3 oz. of almonds introduces 42 g of fat into your diet. – livestrong.com

3 oz? Time to get out the calculator. Based on my calculation, 27 almonds equals 3 oz. My small, five-foot-woman hand can hold 20 almonds. Yep, I am sure I have consumed three handfuls on some days!

There’s a reason that nature grows nuts in hard shells. It should take you A LONG TIME to open each one to eat it.

I continually find evidence that my Depression Era grandparents were way more advanced than we are. Of course they ate nuts. They had a big bowl of them at the table and we would spend an hour cracking and picking out the meats. All that work would net a grand total of about 5 nuts each.

Plus, they never even tried to get into a pair of slim-fit jeans (or any jeans for that matter).

So, here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going on Amazon tomorrow and buying some whole mixed nuts in a shell. Mix it up. Introduce a Filbert now and again. We’re bringing back the nutcracker, friends. Maybe even this vintage dog nutcracker on Etsy.