Learn More About the Angel Way, Annie and Karen

Saturday, June 18, 2011

How can the Guidelines help YOU?

That depends, of course, on what kind of help you're looking for.  For me, the Guidelines have helped me figure out how to answer the age-old question "What should I eat for dinner?"  They've helped me relax and enjoy my food choices.  They've helped me make better and healthier choices more frequently than I ever used to do.  They've helped me appreciate my food, where it comes from, and the people who work to bring it to me more than I ever did before. 

There's nothing especially magical about them, however.  They won't make you thin.  They won't necessarily make you healthy unless you decide to make healthy food choices.  In fact, the one Guideline - "What you eat is up to YOU" - puts the responsibility for every choice you make regarding food squarely on YOU.  (Assuming, of course, you're an adult.)  The Guidelines do, however, challenge us to show ourselves love by feeding ourselves with real love.  In terms of food, real love translates into healthy food. 

We are generally so addicted to self-abuse and self-hatred that we tend to frame even the things we do that are supposed to be "good" for us in negative ways.  Diets or other food regimens are frequently defined in terms of what we "can't" have.  Whenever I've been on a "diet" I don't remember spending much time thinking about all the luscious fruits and vegetables I could have been eating - I remember focusing mostly on all the buttery, creamy, salty, crunchy things I couldn't have.  I don't remember celebrating my "healthier" way of eating - I remember beating myself up mentally if I didn't "stick to" the diet. 

I  may not have a degree in psychology but I do know enough about my own emotional states that I can recognize these feelings are not condusive to healthy self-love.  By encouraging us to nourish ourselves in the most loving ways possible, the Guidelines can help nurture a more loving approach to how we feed ourselves, and ultimately, to our relationship with all that sustains us in the wider world.  It is no accident that "milk" and "kindness" have been long equated. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tweaking the Guidelines

Last night, I gave a talk at Passiflora Tea Shop in New Hartford on the Ten Guidelines.  Since it's been awhile since I've spoken on them, and since I've been living the Guidelines so closely, I've had the chance to reexamine how and why and what the Guidelines really are, and what they can help a person do. 

Consequently, I've "tweaked" them - added a new one, even! - and reorganized them in such a way as to - hopefully - make them more accessible and useful to others... which is really the point of it all. 

So please hop over to the Guidelines page - it's not as fancy or as pretty and there's no PDF to download, but I think it captures the material in a whole new light.  Please tell me what YOU think?  Thanks!...Annie  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Grief and Appetite

Grief is a complicated process that affects everyone differently.  Some people may find they want more food, some people find they can't eat at all.  I offer my experience and observations here as an example because loss is a part of life.  I believe that part of the reason we reject change so much is because change requires us to experience loss in some form or fashion. 

Initially I found that all I wanted to eat was comfort food but not much of it.  I felt hollow and empty, but without appetite.  When I did want to eat, the foods I craved were all comfort foods - rich, pillowy, and buttery.  The ones that weren't sweet and creamy were crispy and salty. 

As you might expect, after eight weeks or so, I began to feel a bit more pillow-y myself than I'm comfortable with.  I reviewed the Ten Guidelines and decided it was time to give some loving attention to the food I was eating. 

I took a hard look at what I wanted to change, and what I didn't.  For example, I realized I was drinking far more coffee than I wanted to drink in the course of a day.  Rather than impose an arbitrary limit on myself that my Rebel Child would only delight in breaking, I decided to stop drinking coffee at nine AM every morning.  After nine AM, I decided to drink mineral water (which I really enjoy in summer) or cold tea made with the herbs I grow in my gardens. (My favorite is chocolate-mint.) Because caffiene withdrawal can trigger migraine headaches, I decided that depending on how I felt every afternoon around 3 or 4 PM, I would have one or two cups of coffee in the afternoon.  For me, this is a reasonable way to cut back on the amount of coffee I drink every day.  

I also looked at the amounts of rainbow foods - fruits and veggies - I've been eating.  Predictably, I've been eating a lot of red foods - strawberries, cherries, beets, red potatoes - which correspond to the first chakra.  Grief is such a heart-chakra emotion that I immediately decided to add greens to every meal - including breakfast.  ("You're eating salad for breakfast?" my husband asked.  "Yep," I answered.)

I'll post more about my journey tomorrow, but please feel free to leave your comments and experiences about how grieving has affected your sense of wellness, dear Readers.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grieving...the Angel Way

Dear Readers...

It's been a long two months.  My father's death was probably the most profound loss I've ever suffered to date.  Consequently, I've been doing very little writing or reading, or even much of anything.  What I have been doing is be-ing. 

For those of you who follow this blog, you know that the Angel Way is about paying attention and listening to your Self in the kindest and most loving way possible.  It's about becoming aware of what your own unique needs are, and then meeting those needs in the ways that are most kind and loving, not only to yourself, but to those around you as well. 

Grieving is a complicated process.  Sinking into the sadness and surrendering to the feelings, experiencing the detachment, the death and the loss, have taken up nearly all my energy these last few months.  It's only been a week or so that I can feel myself emerging. 

The world around me has changed, I've changed, and this blog will reflect some of the upcoming changes.  Karen's journey is demanding that she devote more time and energy to other aspects of her work.  Based on the feedback from the agents who were kind enough to read the manuscript last month, I will be revamping the entire manuscript.  IFYOU WOULD LIKE YOUR EXPERIENCES FEATURED IN PART OF THE BOOK, PLEASE CONTACT ME. 

I'll also be offering workshops in my geographical area to teach people how to use the Guidelines.  I hope to have the revised manuscript ready for distribution - whether electronically or in printed form - by September.  Thank you so much to all the followers of this blog and the Facebook group who have shared their experiences with me.  It is so gratifying to be able to share these messages and know that others have been helped to a more holistic way of living through them.  I truly appreciate your input and feedback and look forward to hearing from more of you. 

The winners of March's contest will be announced briefly.  Thanks again for all your support... Annie


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Angels Advise: Plan How You Will Nourish Yourself Each Day

There's nothing that a human body craves more than balance-- what health professionals call "homeostasis"-- a place of biological, mental and emotional, and energetic harmony.
Unfortunately, our crazy busy lives, not to mention poor diets and insufficient exercise, pull us right out of balance.

One of the Ten Angel Way Guidelines encourages us to "plan how we will nourish ourselves." This is not new information. Anyone who has ever tried to change a bad habit or incorporate a  healthy behavior into their lives, has been advised to create a plan. But, we humans have some flaw in our thought process that equates "planning" with limiting our choices.

Thing is we are overwhelmed with choices for everything from shoes to granola bars. If we don't plan for how we will nourish bodymind and spirit each day, then we are going to choose on a whim and often the choice will not be the most loving nor the most nourishing.

Before my daughters were born, I could manage a few days of slacking off on planning. My "listening skills" for my what my bodymind and spirit needed on a daily basis were almost reflexive. I didn't need reminders. Now, as a busy mom, I have two other lives I have to plan for-- from meals to after school activities, my mind is an iPhone App in attack mode. Next thing I know, I can't hear myself think and suddenly, I'm not taking the best care of myself.

Planning, then, becomes essential. I shop for the best quality foods we can afford. Planning menus a day or two out solves the last minute frenzy of "what to cook". If I don't plan, I wind-up grazing while I'm cooking and the kids, who are starving while they wait for me to throw something together,  take off on a runaway train to fussyville.  Planning prevents this mealtime madness.

If you don't have children, planning can be reassuring as you gently incorporate new ways / new habits into your daily life. Planning boosts your confidence and your chances for successful, long term behavior change because you see--right there on the page or the screen--what you are doing to take care of your bodymind and spirit. If you get off track, planning helps you spot where you lost your way and you can back on track more easily.

Planning with the Power of Choice
  • expand your choices by shopping at different grocers each week
  • buy at least one new food to try at one or more meals during the week
  • write your menu, especially dinners, on a calendar on the fridge-- If you sense your body needs Thursdays meal on Tuesday night, you can always switch.
I like to say my kids have my husband's "meat eater" gene; in reality, their cravings for everything from egg whites to steak probably has more to do with the fact that they are growing so rapidly. their bodies are building muscle and bone and new brain cells by the minute. However, I don't always want meat at dinner. I will include a high-protein vegetarian alternative in my menus a few times a week. As a woman in early mid-life, my needs are so unique from other family members, I find it necessary (and nourishing) to do this in order for me to stay in balance. Planning makes it possible.

What Angel Way Planning Tips Are Helpful To You?

Let us know-- how do you "go" The Angel Way?

We'd like to know...

How do you incorporate the Angel Way Guidelines into your healthy eating habits.
For example, I've taught my children about rainbows and white-light foods-- connecting the guidelines to what they learn in school about protein, fats and carbs. My girls are 5 and 2.5 years old.

Recently, I did run into an awkward situation when my oldest decided to educate another shopper about The Angel Way:
"You know," she said, "that soda and candy bar in your cart is not rainbow food. It's not the best choice, you know. Your body loves rainbows and you should eat lots of them to be take care of your head and have a strong body and spirit!"


Monday, April 4, 2011

When life throws you lemons...

Saturday evening, I received one of those calls that everyone dreads: my dad in California had been taken to the ER and was not expected to live the night.  Fortunately, he did live the night - but he's not expected to survive much longer.  And so, I'm flying out tomorrow morning to California to see my father probably for the last time.  

I won't be posting for a few days, so please be patient. 

Thank you for your understanding....Annie  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

We have winners!

Thanks to all who helped spread the messages this month! 

Our winners are... Kathy Duffy-Thomas, Rosemari Roast and Patricia Bruhn...congratulations and thanks so much!


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thought for today...and everyday

I don't know who authored this beautiful sentiment, but it was sent to me by a dear friend who very seldom forwards anything.  I sent it on to all the wonderful women I love.  Feel free to copy and paste this into your email and keep it going! 

May today there be

peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where

you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are

born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have

received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with

yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow

your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and

every one of us."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Eating...the Angel Way: Book Update

As many of you are aware, Karen and I have completed the manuscript of the book, Eating...Angel Way and we are in the process of exploring our publishing options.  As the Internet has exploded and ereaders are becoming a viable option to traditional books, we have many more choices to consider than ever before. 

Over the next few weeks, we both welcome your kind thoughts of support and your prayers to help us sort through all the information and to make the wisest choices that will enable us to spread the Angels' loving messages to as many people as possible. 

If you would like to be put on our list to receive publishing updates and news about when Eating...the Angel Way will be available in book form, please email me at AnnieKelleher@aol.com

Friday, March 25, 2011

Athletes and Eating…The Angel Way

Just as there are myriad books about dieting, eating and health for the average person in good health, not to mention persons with specific medical concerns, there are an equal number of books on sport nutrition and nutrition for athletes.

If you are "in training" for a specific sport or athletic event, be it playing field hockey, competitive swimming, running a marathon, trying to make an Olympic team or simply wanting to be in top shape for backpacking in the Grand Canyon (like me!), then you may wonder if The Angel Way is right for you.

Yes! Eating…The Angel Way is wonderful for athletes and athletic individuals.

The foundation of The Angel Way begins with learning to listen to your body's unique needs for nourishment, as well as rest and repair. A person, such as myself, who trains in pursuit of a goal that is something more than wanting good health, is wise to listen to her body in such a way.

If you are an athlete / athletic individual and you follow the Angel Way Guidelines you will be able to nourish yourself with the rainbows, white light foods and brown foods that are ideally suited to the demands you place on your muscles and cardiovascular system. Now, you will also find experts suggesting you eat six meals a day, certain quantities of protein and carbs and fats. When you receive such advice and ultimately try such approaches to eating "for athletes", ask yourself:
  • How do I really feel?
  • What is the result I am seeing, mentally, emotionally, physically and yes, spiritually/energetically?
Personally, I have tried the advice of many other wellness professionals about what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, and how long to stick with the often limiting diets prescribed to get me into 'peak performance' - sometimes with less than beneficial results.  I have seen young athletes begin in earnest to "eat for the event" only to perform their personal worst in the competition. What went wrong? As I look back on my own experiences, I realize that many of these approaches are overly prescriptive.   They don't encourage the athlete - or want-to-be athlete  - to listen - really listen - to her or his own bodymind. 
According to the Angels, our understanding of the complicated dance of the body in breaking down the food we eat into nutrients and waste products is in its infancy.  Many experts fall into the trap of believing that what works for them and lots of others must therefore work for everyone.  The only real "expert" on any given individual is that individual herself.  If we don't pay attention to our unique needs then ultimately, we are unlikely to perform at our best, whether that be in competition, in practice, or in our everyday lives where we have just as much stress and nowhere near the fun.

Whether your goal is to play your best on the soccer field, to win a medal, or to keep up with your kids, your inner athlete can benefit by listening to the Angel Way.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Body image: do you love the skin you're in?

An article on alternet.org today reminded me of the reason the Angels wanted the messages about the Guidelines shared:  most of us don't love our bodies the way the Angels wish we would. 

The way most of us view, talk about and punish our bodies saddens the Angels very much.  For the Angels, our bodies are moving miracles of form and function, and the dazzling diversity among us are the reflections of our unique aspect of the Source we all contain.  The Angels are saddened to see the scars left by the suffering we inflict upon ourselves and each other. 

But for many of us, it can feel like an uphill battle.  I began this journey five years ago in an attempt to make peace with the fact that my body was changing, my diet was a mess and my exercise habits were nonexistent.  I had done enough deep work that I understood that my habits were not simply the result of willful laziness - I was reacting to something, something that I could feel all around me and embedded in my bones. 

I wanted to make changes, but I wanted to make changes for the right reasons, not because anything or anyone said I "should." The Angels gave me a reason I could embrace:  to rejoice and celebrate this marvelous body with which I was blessed. 

Please don't think that it's a perfect body according to current standards.  No one is coming to photograph me wearing a bikini on my 52nd birthday - at least I hope they aren't.  At 5-3 (and a half) and 150 lbs, I am, to say the least, a long way from the size 4 I used to be at the height (or should I say the depth) of my exercise obsession.  I'm solid and strong and flexible.  I weigh ten pounds less and I've adopted eating and exercise habits that keep me feeling good about how I am treating myself. 

When I stopped treating my appetite like an unruly child and stopped banishing it from the room, and listened to what "it" really wanted, what it turned out I "really" wanted to eat were clean, local, organic foods.  I found I preferred the taste of free-range eggs, for example, over their pale caged counterparts.  When I stopped listening to the cultural messages that made "fat" a dirty word, I felt free to add what I knew to be healthy fats in healthy doses - enough to keep me satisfied for something that is as necessary to our well-being as sugar. 

Feeling good about how I treat myself became my reason to make fundamental and serious changes to my diet and exercise habits.  But even more importantly, it's helped me accept this new body that looks -at least to me - much different from the one I had what seems like just a few years ago. 
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

What's the single-most important Guideline?

One of the most frequently asked questions about the Ten Guidelines is "Which one is most important?"  Because the Guidelines work together to create the framework upon which any individual can design their own healthy eating plan, it's difficult to say which one is the most "important." 

However, the Fourth Guideline - "Eat a rainbow every day and white-light food at every meal" - is probably the Guideline that can have the most immediate affect upon most people.  If you begin to eat at least one serving of a fruit or veggie in every color of the food rainbow - red, orange, yellow, green and blue/purple - every day AND to ensure you eat a complete protein food at least three times a day, you will begin to feel the beneficial effect within a relatively short period of time, sometimes as soon as three to five days. 

As the body begins to attune itself to the taste of whole foods, and begins to receive adequate raw material with which to repair itself, people often find that their cravings for highly processed and/or artificially sweetened foods begins to naturally diminish.  Because the color of the food stimulates, refreshes and rebalances the corresponding chakras, "eating a rainbow" ensures that the energetic body is nourished as well.  People start to notice differences in things like hair and skin and nails, increase in energy level or beneficial changes to their sleeping patterns.  Preferences or dislikes for certain colors can point the way to deeper work. 

This year, spring begins with a super-full moon in Virgo - an excellent energy with which to embrace positive and healthy eating habits, one of the most fundamental acts of healthy self-love we can show ourselves.  Loving yourself in this way not only provides the basis for a healthier lifestyle for you - it also links you to the source of the food - the plants, animals and people who provide it.  All beings are manifestations of the Divine Source and the fundamental energy of that Divine Source is Love.  Eating a rainbow every day and a white light food at every meal can help you, ultimately, feel more connected to that Source and aware of it in every aspect of the planet.  This of course, then relates to Guideline #8 - "Eat locally and organically as possible."  As you can see, all the Guidelines are intimately connected. 

The Angels suggest you try "eating a rainbow every day" and "eating white-light food at every meal" for two or three days in a row,and see if it makes a difference in how you feel. 

After all, They say, you deserve it. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Antidotes for Feeling Fat: Good Vibrations!

I find this guidance very helpful and the wisdom behind it is clear and accurate.

Often "feeling fat" is a dumping ground for other emotions. Feeling fat can be related to the weight of the world you carry-- literally, the challenges of your busy life weighing you down. It is certainly true for me as I balance, work, family, friendships and personal aspirations.

If we are not choosing, by how we eat and how we move and how we care for ourselves, to lighten the load, then the heaviness builds around us.

All  of the suggestions Annie posted are in tune with leading edge science:  we know exercise can be as effective as medication for alleviating mild depression and anxiety (and has even been shown to help with more significant clinical bouts of these maladies of modern times). Movement strengthens the bodymind on a neurochemical level.

If you bring a positive attitude to exercise of any kind-- one of JOY, then exercise doesn't become another thing you HAVE to do, it becomes something you choose to do for you-- to raise your vibration.

To be sure, if you exercise for vanity sake alone-- for appearance, to drop weight, to please someone else in your life-- as many women have done and too many women (and girls) still do-- you only add to the pressure cooker feeling all around you. To move simple as a way to enJOY the experience of your bodymind and spirit is freeing....and will lift you out of the heavy feelings that can so easily lead to feeling fat, weighed down, frumpy, ugly ____ pick your term.

Remember Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Gosh those abs on Mark Wahlberg! I digress. GOOD VIBRATIONS. What a song. Turn it on. Get a move on-- Raise your vibration!

How will you LIFT your bodymind and spirit up to a higher vibration, today?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Feeling "fat"

It's the time of year when I start to think about peeling off the layers of sweaters and turtlenecks I've cocooned myself in for the last few months.  Invariably, no matter how dedicated I've been, hiding somewhere in the recesses of my psyche is that awful phrase: "I feel fat!"

"I feel fat" is an uncomfortable feeling.  It can strike at any time, it seems - no matter how many potato chips I've avoided, or how many rainbows I've eaten.  Most of the time I find that when I stop to think about it, it would be more accurate to say "I feel bloated," or "I feel overly full," or "I feel sluggish." But the way I process the feeling, it usually comes out as "I feel fat."  

The Angels have suggestions on what to do the next time that overstuffed sausage feeling overtakes you.

- First, if possible, drink a cup of hot water, with the juice of half a fresh lemon or lime.  Drink the water slowly, and if the juice is too sour for you, add a small amount of honey.  Consider eating a slice of fresh, dried or frozen papaya.  Or, the tablets sold at most health food stores can be a helpful alternative. 

- Stretch and breathe.  A single sun salutation, done with awareness, and attention to breath, can be very helpful in overcoming energy slumps that may be the root of the "heavy" feeling.  Sometimes I realize I'm not so much feeling "fat" as feeling tired, and if so, I try to take at least a few minutes to rest.  However, if you're not tired, stretching while taking slow mindful breaths is a wonderful way to refresh your entire bodymind and to get things moving in a sluggish system. 

- Move your body - even for just a few minutes.  Walk or jog, even a mile or for a set length of time.  Lift some light weights, jump some rope, challenge your kid or someone else's to a game of hop skotch.  Ride your bike, swim a lap. Dance. Crank up the volume and unleash your inner rock star.  The point is not to punish yourself or to make yourself feel bad about how you feel; the point is to create literal physical movement, so that as you feel your body burning calories, the rest of you shifts to more active state as well. 

- Check in with yourself.  Take a few minutes and perhaps journal about what's going on in your life.  To the extent possible, give any stresses, worries, challenges, or expectations to the page.   See that by putting it down, you aren't necessarily making it magically go away or resolve itself, but that you ARE shifting the energetic "weight" to a more stable holding place - the written word or the computer document.  Allow your journal to become the place where you "carry" some of energetic burden. 

- Eat something raw, fresh and green, dressed in apple cider or wine vinegar.  Make a green salad the centerpiece of your next meal.  Experiment with different types of lettuces, herbs and other greens to find your favorites.  For example, I love watercress, spinach, dandelion and other "spring" greens.  Include a source of protein, but no brown foods, sweets or fats.  Drink water - hot or cold - with fresh squeezed lemon or lime, or an herbal tea that appeals to you.  Avoid carbonated beverages if you can. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Teas and Tisanes...a request from a Facebook Friend

According to experts, only drinks brewed from the leaves of the tea plant, Camillia sinensis, can technically be called "tea."  Tea has been considered beneficial for as long as people have been keeping records of drinking it.  Chinese scholars for centuries credited tea with healing properties and as a remedy to all sorts of ailments from ulcers to skin lesions to depression.  In England in the 17th century, tea was believed to cure headaches, giddiness, heaviness, colds, dropsy and scurvy among other things.  Made with boiling water, tea was free of bacteria, which made it a much healthier alternative to plain water.  And tea also contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

According to Linda Osborne in the"All About Tea Knowledge Cards," "black tea contains more fluoride than a comparable amont of fluoridated water.  Tea also contains calcium, zine, B vitamins, and folic acid.  Green teas in particular contain antioxidants found nowhere else. 

Tea also contains caffiene and the longer the leaves have oxidized, the more caffiene it contains.  Black tea has the most.  However, to give you an idea of the amounts, a five ounce cup of coffee has 80-115 milligrams of caffeine.  A cup of black tea has no more than  40, and green tea prepared in the same manner only 3.  Linda Osborne suggests that tea can be decaffeinated at home by pouring off the first cup of water after 30 to 60 seconds, and adding new water to steep the leaves a second time. 

A tea made from any other plant is more properly called a herbal infusion, or a tisane.  Their use is even more ancient than tea's. Plants commonly used for such infusions are chamomile, ginger, peppermint, lavender and lemon verbena.  Depending on the plant, all parts may be used not just the leaves, including the roots, bark, berries, and seeds. 

According to the Angels, teas and tisanes can be considered part of one's daily rainbow as a green food primarily, because they're plants.  However, certain teas or tisanes, such as lavender, because of the color of the part used to make the tea, can be considered a blue/purple food as well.   An infusion of golden calendula flowers would be considered yellow, and luscious hibiscus, red.  Thus, teas and herbal infusions can be another way to ensure you not only eat a rainbow every day, its a way to ensure you're getting adequate water.  Herbal teas, with the exception of yerba mate, don't contain caffeine.  Check out our friend Rose of Walk In The Woods, LLC for more on making wonderful herbal infusions. 
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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Easing through changes...the Angel Way

Any time we're confronted by changes, whether they are changes of our own choosing, or changes that life presents us with, the Angels urge us to be extra gentle with ourselves.  They urge us to slow down, even if only for a few minutes, and really pay attention to ourselves, to our hungers, to our wants, desires and needs on every level of our bodymind.  Even changes we decide we want or need to make - adding in exercise or a meditation program or a few minutes of yoga - can be difficult to sustain.  Conventional wisdom says it takes 21 days to turn a new behavior into a habit, and more recent research shows it actually takes four to six weeks.  Dr. Mala Matacin at the University of Hartford spoke extensively to Karen about how hard it can be for individuals to make proactive changes. 

The Angels suggest that if you wish to incorporate a new behavior - say, for example, eating more colors, or walking or meditating - that you pick one or at most two behaviors or activities to focus on per day.  Allow your focus to be on something you decide to succeed at.  Celebrate that success, and then the following day, try something different, and focus on that.  Alternate your focus according to where your energy feels like it wants to go, or even, where it might not want to go but you know better...like, for example, to the gym.  Going to the gym,every other day ultimately will result in your working out on average four days a week.  Meditating and doing yoga on the days inbetween mean you also do that four days a week.  In this way, you can address all the needs of your bodymind with flexibility and sensitivity and without pressure to change everything all at once. 

 In this way, you will build an experience of successes, and the cumulative effect, over time, will be an overall healthy one.  You will also be a lot gentler and kinder to your self. 
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Sweetness and Cushion-- Sweet Research, Sweet Revelation

"You may realize that you need to make profound changes in some aspect of your life.  According to the Angels, once you begin to address the other areas where cushioning and sweetness are issues, it becomes easier to make the healthier choice." 
Annie Kelleher's recent blog post on the Angel Guideline for "every body needs a little sweetness; every body needs a little cushion." 

This is the Guideline that I, personally, have the most difficulty with embracing. Not that I don't appreciate the wisdom in the Guideline-- I absolutely agree all things, all flavors of the earth, belong in our diets in balance. Somedays we will indulge more than others-- life itslef is a menu of choices and experienced to be sampled, enJoyed, experienced. The foods we choose are a part of the experience.

In my life, right now, I am facing a number of choices that revolve around my children's developmental needs; family-life-work balance; medical concerns that have surfaced and getting back in synch with dreams I have for myself, independent of the roles of mother, wife, chauffer, friend, volunteer and so forth. Somethings gotta give and lately it feels like it's me. Or it's been quality time with my kids or blowing off friends or volunteer projects and feeling lousy about all of it. There's not a lot of sweetness nor cushion wrapped around my experience at this point in time. i feel my body yearning for something sweet- but not too much-- no, that would be B-A-D. Last thing I need to worry about now, in the midst of everything else, is an extra inch of cushion around my waist. And this is not for vanity's sake. When I'm a few pounds off from my "comfy range"; when I'm a few days ( or in this case weeks) out of synch with the exercise routine that helps me feel strong and healthy from the inside-out, then I don't feel like I'm supporting myself, being kind to myself.

And, here I am, on a trip to visit family, and Annie is posting about sweetness and cushion. Are the Angels talking to me through her?  Seems so. Seems like someOne is reminding me about balance and kindness and reminding me to look at things through the lens of this Guideline about Sweetness and what may be lacking in my life, as a whole, not just in my diet/ nutrition habits. And in turn, I LISTEN better for what it is I really, truly need at this time and, with a little prayer, hope that I make the best choices for all.


Health Benefits of Chocolate (from the website Live Science)
Cocoa and health: a decade of research
Karen A. Cooper, Jennifer L. Donovan, Andrew L. Waterhouse and Gary Williamson (2008)
British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 99, Issue 01, January 2008 pp 1-11

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What about chocolate?

Chocolate is probably the single food item most people ask about.  "How do the Angels feel about chocolate" is usually one of the first three or four questions everyone wants to know.  After all, chocolate is one of the things we usually "give up" or try to "cut back on."  Chocolate is described as "sinful,"  and generally considered to be one of those foods that you're better off avoiding all together if you're serious about losing weight.  Just yesterday, in the ladies' locker room in the gym, I overheard two young girls discussing the foods they were eliminating from their diets in order to lose some weight - which they definitely did not need to lose AT ALL.  Sadly, at least to my way of thinking, chocolate was at the top of their lists.

According to the Angels, chocolate is wonderful food that can be categorized as a "green" food - it's part of a plant, after all.  Chocolate contains anti-oxidants and other substances that are beneficial to the body, and the brain.  A recent study (which I will ask Karen to look up when she returns home!)  showed that chocolate can be incorporated by healthy people into a healthy diet with no unhealthy effects.  Even Dr. Dean Ornish shared with Karen during a phone interview that he eats a piece of dark chocolate every day.

The "problem" with chocolate - as with all foods - is in the processing.  It's what we do to it to turn into the treat that creates the imbalance.  Chocolate laden with highly processed sugars and preservatives isn't any more good for you than any other kind of food would be.  But an organic chocolate bar or a cup of fair trade cocoa made with just a few natural ingredients can be a wonderful indulgence that soothes your entire being... bodymind, heart and soul.  Chocolate, or cocoa powder, can also be added to other types of food - Mexican and South American dishes incorporate chocolate in other things besides desserts or treats.

As with all foods, the Angels urge us to make the kindest, most loving choice as often as possible.  Everybody, say the Angels, needs a little sweetness in their lives.   

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Feeling cushioned, feeling sweet

Maybe you've added a few extra pounds over the winter, maybe you have a few extra you'd like to shed.  Spring is a great time to rev up your metabolism and many of us feel the urge to begin making healthier choices.  So what if it's appropriate for you to limit your fats and sweets?  What are some ways to make it easier to make the healthier choices, even when every cell in your bodymind feels like it's screaming: "EAT THE ICE CREAM.  WITH HOT FUDGE." 

"Everybody needs a little sweetness and everybody needs a little cushion" is the guideline which addresses this issue.  The Angels suggest we approach limiting intake of fats and sweets by examining all the other areas of our lives - emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical - to see if we are experiencing feelings of being cushioned and sweetness in all these other areas, or if there are deficits.  Frequently, when we look at our lives holistically, we may see places where, for example, it's easier to eat something high in fat than to address our underlying feelings of not having enough money.  If we lack a feeling of being cushioned and supported in some crucial area in our lives, we may turn to dietary fats to create the literal cushion.  If we lack a feeling of sweetness in our lives - if we tend to focus too much on work, for example, and don't make time for fun - giving up our favorite candy may only make us feel even more deprived. 

It is in this state of energetic imbalance and rebellion, then, that so many of us live when we decide to limit these kinds of foods.  Therefore, it is very helpful, according to the Angels, that when it is appropriate to limit these foods, we examine our lives carefully and look for places where we may be feeling less than cushioned and ways to increase the amount of sweetness that don't involve the intake of food.  For example, setting aside every five or ten dollar bill you receive can create a monetary cushion that can help address feelings of financial lack.  Buying clothes that have soft textures, comfortable shoes or a plusher comforter for your bed are other ways to feel more "cushioned." 

Or, it might even be time to look for a new job, find a new place to live, or make more time for fun.  You may find you need to address toxic issues in your relationships.  You may realize that you need to make profound changes in some aspect of your life.  According to the Angels, once you begin to address the other areas where cushioning and sweetness are issues, it becomes easier to make the healthier choice. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

Soothing tired skin...an Angel suggestion

Lately, I've been enjoying a salt water bath every other day.  I don't stay in the tub longer than 15 or 20 minutes, and I like to add snips of the fresh herbs I've managed to nurse through the winter...rosemary, sweet basil and aloe.  This morning I was thinking about the facial I enjoyed on vacation... and was wishing I could replicate its soothing feeling on my skin. 

Any suggestions, I asked, as I prepared my tub. And sure enough... this is what the Angels said to do.  This mask is especially energizing for "mature" skin (like mine.)

You will need

3 regular aspirin, uncoated. 
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons fresh finely grated potato

In mortar and pestle, grind aspirin to fine powder.  Add honey and potato, stir well.  Apply mixture to face and throat, avoiding the area around your eyes.  Leave on approximately ten minutes.  Rinse off with warm water, pat dry.  The salicylic acid in the aspirin as well as the enzymes in the honey will act to stimulate and exfoliate the dead cells on top.  The potato contains agents that help fade age spots and is also beneficial for blemishes. 

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Living "now"

One of the hardest things for me is to remember to live in the present moment.  As a single mother, I was always worrying about something.  As a writer, there's always a reason to fret.  I spend a lot of time wondering if I do such and such, or say such and such, what will happen next.  And usually, I can think of so many bad things that might happen next, I can scare myself right under my covers. 

Yet every time this happens, I "hear" the Angels, reassuring me, reminding me to breathe, to relax, to focus on the one small thing I might do to change or ameliorate my present situation.  My life is changing dramatically right now.  I'm standing on the threshold of a whole new phase of my life - and as exciting as that is most of the time, sometimes, it's really scary.  When I feel myself starting to become overwhelmed by the fear, I slow down and stop to the extent that I can.  Then, I take a few minutes and just breathe. 

Mindful breathing is a wonderful way to connect to your sense of the present.  According to the Angels, most of us walk around all day without giving much thought ever to the miracle of respiration that happens in our bodies every minute.  Connecting to the sensation of the breath entering the lungs, filling the deep spaces, enabling the essential oxygen to enter our cells, grounds us in the moment.  The breath can quite literally become a lifeline, or an anchor, stabilizing our emotions and the rest of our energy around the flow of air.  This image, of our physical bodies anchored to a pulse of flowing air is a wonderful metaphor.  When I remember that what flows in and through me and keeps me alive at every moment is that column of moving air, I become more aware of the other invisible aspects of my being as well as the invisible energies all around me.  Then I know I am not alone. 

The world can feel like a chaotic, ever-changing, sometimes frightening place.  The Angels urge us to take some time every day, breathing and paying attention to the intangible elements that sustain us. 

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Three ways to win....

In honor of March as National Nutrition Month, Karen and I are hoping YOU - our Angel followers and members of our Facebook Group will help spread the Angel's messages.  As a bonus, we're going to offer some prizes - all organic or hand-made, of course! - for those of you who help the most. 

There will be THREE ways to win...and THREE great prizes:  each winner will receive a basket of Angel-inspired gifts that include a lovingly created mini art-journal - perfect for planning and listing and an herbal tea, chosen specially for you.

So please consider helping us...here's how to win:

1.  The person who recruits the most members to our Facebook Group.
2.  The person who retweets our tweets on twitter.com the most.
3. The person who recruits the most followers to our blog. 

For 1 and 3, please have the person leave a comment telling us your name, and for 2, please send me a tweet (@anniekelleher) to let me know you've retweeted.  Thank you so very much!!
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Prizes! There will be prizes!

Did you know March is National Nutrition Month?  In honor of this, Karen and I are turning to YOU to help us spread the word about Eating...the Angel Way.   Both of us have experienced so many positive changes since adapting the Guidelines into our own lives.  Both of us know so many people who have found "peace of plate."  Both of us know so many people who have experienced positive changes since embracing the "Angel Way" of eating...and all the healthiest people we know already followed the Guidelines without realizing it!

We hope you'll help us.  And to give you incentive, we will offer (at least!) three wonderful prizes as well as (at least) three different ways to win.  Categories will be in things like - recruiting blog followers; retweeting on Twitter, mentioning us on your blog and Facebook. 

If you've followed the Ten Guidelines, you know all the wonderful changes that are possible.  The Angels want the word spread because we cannot heal the public aspects of our lives on this planet until we also begin to heal our fundamental relationship with that which sustains us personally.  Please help us fulfill this aspect of the Angel messages.

More details to follow....coming soon!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ten Angel Way Guidelines NEW PAGE

See our new page where you can download and print the Ten Guidelines!
Post on your fridge or shrink the size and carry in your wallet or purse!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Starting your day...the Angel Way or, Detoxing, part three

How does your day begin?  In quiet meditation, perhaps with some gentle yoga or stretching, a warm bath, an energizing cup of tea?  For most of us, mornings are just the prelude to very busy days...perhaps you genuinely don't have time to add one more thing into your morning routine.  Taking even five minutes to sit, breathe, meditate or stretch can seem like just one more chore. 

The Angels suggest, however, that just as taking the time to eat something nourishing will fuel your body for the work it's about to do, takng a few minutes to focus and to pay attention to the entire state of your bodymind can help you accomplish that work more efficiently and more productively, with greater clarity and sense of purpose.

As part of your Spring detox, the Angels suggest pay attention to your daily routines and rituals.  Don't necessarily try to change them, or add to them...just notice them.  Try carrying a small notebook or journal - such as the beautiful ones my friend Rose makes at Walk In the Woods, LLC  - and notate the order in which you habitually do things.  You may find, as I did, ways to streamline, or change habitual routines to make them more satisfying, such as switching to mostly organic and green cleaning products.   Small changes can make big differences over time - one grain at a time the ants move mountains.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Eating organically...the broader implications

The eighth guideline, "Eat as locally and organically as possible," is at first glance as simple and straightforward as it sounds.  But the reasons for it are not. 

All foods contain energy.  The energy in food is shaped by the experience of the food as it was raised and produced.  It is affected by the energy of the people who harvest and handle it, so that by the time it reaches our tables, it can carry energetic imprints both positive and negative. 

According to the Angels, these energetic imprints, whether or not we are aware of them, can affect us over time.  As you follow the guidelines, you may find as I did, that you become more sensitive to the energetic imprints in foods.  It therefore becomes easier to make the organic choice more often than not, because of the "feeling" in the food.    

According to the Angels, as more and more of us make the organic, humane, respectful choice more often than not, the broader world will begin to shift.   Because food production is the fundamental human activity upon which our entire culture rests, this is an area where our personal choices can have some very public impact. 

Remember when you're thinking of detoxing your body that detoxing ourselves is as much about detoxing our environment, and that environment includes not only the food we put into our bodies, but where it comes from, how it's produced, who brings it to us and how all those beings are treated.   We can begin by making the kindest, healthiest, most respectful choices for ourselves, but ultimately, true detoxification can only happen when all of us extend those same loving, kind and respectful choices to the entire planet and every being on it. 
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Paying attention or, detoxing the Angel Way, part two

Have you paid attention to yourself today?  Paying attention to yourself is not quite the same thing as being nice to yourself or doing something nice for yourself.  Paying attention to yourself is about being true to yourself.  It's about acknowleging how you really feel and what you really want - if only to yourself - at any given point in time. For many people, especially those of us who are caregivers, paying attention to ourselves is something we very seldom really do.  When my children were small, for example, I frequently found that when I did take time "for myself" I was so exhausted I felt numb.  Paying attention to yourself, however, can happen at any time or place, in the middle of a hundred things. 

Paying attention to yourself can mean you stick to your guns in an argument, or you screw your courage to the sticking place (to borrow from one of my favorite writers) and ask for the schedule change at work you've been wishing you could have.   Paying attention to yourself might mean saying "no" politely,  as well as indulging in a treat.  Paying attention to yourself is about finding ways to validate your own emotions - both positive and negative - for yourself.  According to the Angels, an important aspect of detoxification doesn't mean getting rid of negative feelings or thoughts.  It's about acknowledging those emotions, and paying attention to them, rather than repressing or denying them.

The Angels urge us all to pay attention to ourselves every day, even if only for a minute or two.  The Angels urge us to recognize all states of our being without judgement.  The Angels understand that for many of us, food becomes the means by which we express some of our deepest and most critical beliefs about ourselves. 

For example, I had a friend who was so uncomfortable expressing her negative emotions - most especially anger - that the way she dealt with conflict was to simply shut whoever she had a conflict with out of her life.  What was extremely interesting about this woman was that she denied herself all red meat, dairy, wheat gluten, soy, caffiene and alchohol.  This was all without any medical or other alternative diagnosis of any kind of food allergies or any other condition that might indicate the need to embrace such an ascetic regimen.   She didn't have any particularly spiritual or political reason either - she was neither vegan nor vegetarian, since she would eat poultry, fish and eggs, and found many vegan or vegetarian dishes unacceptable because of the inclusion of wheat or soy.  The last I heard she was considering giving up eggs.  According to the Angels, her food choices (or in her case, food eliminations) reflected her emotional state of denial.  The way she treated food reflected how she treated people...and most importantly of all, how she treated HERSELF. 

Taking time therefore, every day, to acknowledge what it is we might want or feel or need at any given point in time is an important step in accepting every aspect of ourselves - even those we might prefer not to acknowledge.  The Angels see nothing negative about the emotions we often label negative - our emotions evolved to keep us alive.  Fear, grief and anger are part of our human experience. The Angels urge us to begin to embrace these aspects of ourselves by paying attention the next time we feel afraid, angry or sad, not repressing or denying them.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chobani...The Angel Way Recipe-- Guacamole Alternative

I have to say I had never heard of Greek style yogurt until Annie introduced me to Chobani Yogurt. Being a yogurt lover, I can't believe I did not discover Chobani sooner. Perhaps the Angels intervened on my behalf and I am so glad they did because I have so many ways to love Chobani:

Chunky Chobani Chicamole

I don't like guacamole that much but I love my Chicamole!

1 large can of chick peas (the really big can of Goya is one I use)
1 small cup of plain chobani yogurt (six oz)
seasonings of your choice-- examples:
artichoke hearts--diced very well; sundried tomato; grated parmesean or romano cheese, chopped pitted olives; diced green or red pepper; etc

alternative:  raisins, 1 tbsp honey, cranberries (these items are spooned in after the chicamole is blended)

I use a Magic Bullet blender.
I place the yogurt in first, then the chick peas, blend and tap down any chick peas that aren't going through the blending process. I'll add a teaspoon of water if the mixture is too thick and pasty. Olive oil can also be used. Blend again. Spoon through mixture. if there are too many unblended chick peas, spoon and mash, then blend again. Continue until you reach the consistency you like. I like mine a bit lumpy because I like this mixture:

on bread instead of cream cheese
for dipping chopped veggies or crackers for a snack
to keep my pita sandwhiches closed I will put a light layer on the pita and fill with veggies, falafel or turkey

If you make the variety with dried fruit, use Chobani with honey, instead of plain.

The Angels just love Chobani-- high in protein, low in fat, great source of calcium! And it tastes sooo good how can your spirit not dance with delight!

Monday, February 14, 2011

"Doing a detox" the Angel Way...should you or shouldn't you?

The light's more golden, the air is a balmy 52 degrees and the days are perceptibly longer.  Even though several feet of snow still blanket the New England ground, I can feel spring coming.  This is the time of year many people start to think about "doing a detox." 

As I'm sure all the readers of this blog know, a"detox" diet or cleanse is a food or supplement regimen designed to help your body release toxins or accumlulated wastes that may have built up in the tissues or organs.  However, according to the Angels, for most adults who are otherwise healthy, a detox may be unnecessary, and even potentially harmful.  

It can be very easy to overdo a detox, to the point of depleting the body's own reserves.  Beneficial bacteria can be wiped out, or imbalances created which can leave you feeling weak.   Commerical detox regimens can be expensive.   So here it is... spring is coming...what can you do to bolster your energy in the next few months and help yourself feel as vibrant as a spring sunbeam? 

According to the Angels, if you give your body the nutrients and water it needs to perform its many functions, and limit the amount of man-made chemical substances you ingest, your system is perfectly capable of detoxifying itself.  The liver and kidneys are miraculous organs that science can only attempt to replicate...consider how clumsy the dialysis process is.   A healthy detoxification won't occur overnight, and the differences at first may seem subtle.

The Angels urge you to allow four to six weeks and to follow these gentle suggestions:

- Increase your water intake to 6-8 ounces at every meal or snack.  Herbal teas and coffee without sweetener counts.
- Eliminate to the extent possible all manmade chemical addivities or presevatives.  Choose processed foods made only of natural ingredients.
- Consider adding herbs such as astragulus root, dandelion, chickweed, dulse or ginseng to your diet.  Investigate ayurvedic, Chinese or American herbal systems and see what resonates for you.  Consult an herbalist or ayurvedic nutritionist if you feel you need more direction.
- Eat a serving of fresh leafy greens at least three times a day.  Watercress, parsley and "spring mixes" in the grocery store are all great choices.  Dress lightly with olive oil and lemon, or other fresh herbs.
- Salt only to taste and avoid adding salt during cooking (unless it's to water to make it boil faster.)
- Make the organic, free-range, cage-free, no hormone added choice as often as possible.  This is especially important when considering dairy products or meats.
- Consider drinking a cup of warm water with the juice of half a fresh lemon every morning. 
- Add fresh papaya or papaya enzymes to your diet.  The enzymes in papaya can be as effective as prescription drugs at minimizing heartburn or "acid reflux." 
- Try to eat at least one full rainbow every day, or one serving each of a fruit or vegetable in all five colors: red, orange, yellow, green and blue/purple.
- Move your body.  Dance.  Do yogo.  Run up and down steps.  Walk.  Go the gym.  Whatever it is you love to do, do it.  For at least twenty or thirty minutes a day.  You deserve it and your body craves it. 
- Follow the Guidelines - especially Four, Five and Six - at least two days out of every three.     
- Practice deep breathing with awareness for three to five minutes a day.  Simply sit wherever you happen to be.  Take several deep breaths all the way into your belly, hold for three or four counts, and then fully expell it.  Allow yourself to connect fully with your breathing.    

As with any behavior changes, go slowly.  Perhaps incorporate one change at a time, or make a committment to allow yourself to skip one of the tips every day.  Moderate your behavior by giving yourself breaks - try to be consistent two or three days in a row and then give yourself a day or at least a meal "off."    The Angels urge you to be aware of your body as the miraculous creation that it is - a living manifestation of the Divine and to trust that it is capable of bringing itself into holistic balance.  
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What feeds YOUR soul?

For the last ten days, I've been spending a large portion of my day doing what feels to me like one of the most nourishing things I can do for myself:  staring at the ocean.  I'm not a very energetic vacationer, because watching the ocean is what feeds my soul. 

One of the most important aspects of Eating...the Angel Way is to take some time learn not just what your body is hungry for, but also what the rest of you craves.  Your mind, for example, may enjoy the mental stimulation of doing crossword puzzles or playing along with television quiz shows.  Your emotions and creativity need expression and validation.  Your soul has deeply rooted needs and desires as well. 

Spending even a few minutes a day engaged in something that feeds your particular soul may be a different as doing a random kind deed, meditating or praying, attending a religious service, or spending time in nature.  As you begin to apply the Guidelines to your own life, you may find it easier to identify what it is that makes you feel spiritually refreshed and whole.  You may even see ways in which cravings or desires for certain foods are related to spiritual or emotional needs.  

The more aware you become of the root of these cravings, and what fuels the need, the more likely it is you will find additional ways to feed your soul that engage all your senses - and not just taste.   Slowing down to savor your food like Angelina, will help you practice savoring all forms of nourishment ...and not just those you eat.   

Monday, February 7, 2011

Eating Like a Child: Slowly, Gently, Loving Every Bite

A few nights ago, I turned from the sink where I had been washing dishes after a family dinner, to observe The Angel Way in action--right at  my kitchen table. My almost five year old daughter was eating a mini-ice cream sandwich. After every bite she said "mmm".  She closed her eyes. She licked her fingers between bites. She took small bites, as if to make this special treat last even longer. When the ice cream dripped over the edge of the soft chocolate cookie, she'd try to catch it with her tongue--giggling when she made a mess on her face (or hands or the table I had just cleaned :))

"This is sooo good Mommy. Thank you for this special treat. I love it!" she said.

Hmm. Isn't that something. This ice cream treat was about the size of a deck of cards--not even quite as long or thick, hence the term mini. My husband would have been on his third serving had he been sitting here with us. I would surely have been finished in just three bites. And my daughter could have done the same, but she didn't.

Instead, she ate The Angel Way-- without knowing anything more about the Guidelines than the rainbow and white-light foods. She had a little sweetness and never asked for seconds because, as she said, "It was just the yummiest to my whole body!"

Wouldn't it be wonderful if every one of us ate everything on our plate as a child often does: slowly, gently, loving every bite.


P.S.  A few nights later, my little girl ate an Andes mint the exact same way. Now, you know how small  those mints are. It was truly inspirational!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Always hungry...always tired?

One of the more surprising correlations I've been reading about lately are the recent studies that show how inadequate sleep can affect our appetites.  Not enough sleep causes a chemical cascade in the brain that literally triggers our appetites.  Thus, many people who find their appetites difficult to "control" may be not so much hungry as sleepy and not so much undisciplined as over-scheduled. 

Sleep is frequently the first thing we cross off our lists.  Many people I know sound as if they pride themselves on how few hours of sleep they can "get by on." And yet, by denying themselves time to rest, recuperate and refresh, these people are actually sabotaging themselves.

Adequate sleep is crucial for good health.  Making sure you get enough sleep for you should be a top priority and possibly the perfect place to begin any wellness regimen.  Naps count -if you can't get as much as you need at night, schedule time for a nap.  Don't apologize to anyone for your need to nap, either -  a fifteen or twenty minute power nap and you'll be far more productive if you give in to your need for sleep than if you rely on food, caffiene or other substitutes to make up for the deficit.
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Entering Mid-life...the Angel Way

Human females are unlike any other animal - we menstruate, and then, with at least a third of our lives before us, we stop.  This "change of life" is much like the one that turned our bodies from children into adult women; this new change is just as sweeping and just as fundamental. 
According to the Angels, the key to managing these sweeping changes is to acknowledge, first of all, is that physically, your body IS changing.  You are NOT going to look like the woman you were at 20, any more than you can look like the child you were at 10.  Menopause is truly a time of initiation into a woman's new life as the Wise Crone.  Most of us aren't aware of how profound these changes are and try to hold on to what is perceived to be "lost."  I actually had a "friend" tell me I was going to feel "like shit" if I didn't take something called BioIdentical Hormones. 

However, having survived the midlife years with equanimity, no health challenges, very few hot flashes, I can attest it is perfectly possible to go through these years without resorting hormones or artificial supplements of any kind.  The key, according to the Angels, is to be truly present to the state of your bodymind as it undergoes these changes. 

In Susun Weed's wonderful book, Menopause the Wise Woman Way, the initial step of your initiation is isolation. As menopausal changes intensify during the premenopausal years many women find themselves desperate to be alone.  This is a bona fide need of your entire bodymind.  If you don't honor this need, you may well find yourself snapping at the people you love the most - even if they are only preschoolers.   Even a few hours retreat at a quiet park, a meditation center, or a place like Wisdom House in Litchfield, CT, can be extremely helpful to the emerging Crone. 

Susun Weed offers these other tips to help nurture your body through this transition:

-Nourish and tonify your entire hormonal system. Menopausal changes occur not only in the ovaries, but also in the adrenal, thyroid, pancreas, pineal, and pituitary glands. Herbal allies are remarkably safe and effective glandular nourishers.

-Increase the number and amount of calcium-rich foods you consume. No single effort will repay you more richly. High levels of calcium in the diet protect you from osteoporosis, heart disease, and emotional swings. Green leafy vegetables (herbs and weeds) are exceptional sources of calcium - as well as the other critical minerals.

-Find some regular physical activity to fall in love with. Even gentle exercise, done regularly, helps maintain peak bone mass, strengthens the cardiovascular system, and insures deep sleep.

- Gain up to a pound a year for ten years. Thin women have more hot flashes and an altogether more difficult menopause than women who weigh more.  Fat cells produce estrone, a kind of estrogen.   This is the reason that your body tries to gain weight during this time.  If you don't listen to this innate wisdom, and won't let yourself gain some weight, at least stop trying to lose weight.  Remember that dieting decreases bone mass and weakens the heart.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Entering MidLife...The Angel Way

Last Summer I celebrated my 40th birthday. Most people say I don't look my age and most of the time I don't feel my age, either. At least not the way I remember my own mother telling me the way she felt at age 40 (story for another time and place, but it wasn't anything good). So, I find it interesting that lately, I  hear myself saying things like "I feel 40" or "oh, this is what 40 feels like." Most of the time I'm making these declarations, I noticed, happens to be around the time of the month Mother Nature pays me a visit.

I've observed Mother's Nature's Monthly has changed quite a bit for me in the past year, but especially in the last six months. Without going into detail, I have more physical aches, including headaches, that I never experienced in the past--even though, my cycle is fewer days than in the past. (one would think, less menstrual days, less problems!) I often want to retreat for at least day, if not two or three, into a cave. I don't mean a few minutes of quiet or solitude. I actually don't want anyone around me or even near me. Strange indeed for an extraverted person! Of course, with two preschoolers, that's impossible so I wind-up biting my tongue in an effort to not blow my top over the smallest mishap or someone lingering on my leg for a second too long. Not always a success at this endeavor. You get the picture.

I'm listening, as the Angels, and most other healthy eating guidelines, suggest. And what I hear my body tell me is craving mass-confusion! I'm hungry for something chocolate and crunchy and carbs and oh a turkey and cheese sandwhich would help with the blood sugar bottoming out and I need milk and I feel dehydrated all at the same time!

So, I post this question:  How do we enter midlife The Angel Way?

Listening. Being gentle with myself. Eating small, nourishing quantities of the things my body craves, treating myself with kindness.

Mother Nature is pretty powerful when she makes her monthly trip down Karen Lane.
What do the Angels suggest we do to enter and navigate midlife changes that leave us ransacked and depleted?

Annie... the floor is all yours (and the Angels, of course).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why am I eating at 2 AM?

I came across this question several times in the last couple weeks -  a friend's status on Facebook; a recent article on the physiological reasons that prompt these midnight foragings for food, someone else who mentioned he was getting up at all hours to eat. 

When I asked the Angels for guidance on this, They reminded me (as I was fairly sure They would) "eat like a baby."

The need to eat at 2 AM - an hour when most of us prefer to sleep - may be linked to many things, but one place an otherwise healthy individual might start is to look at is if their inner infant may be in need of some attention.  Babies need nourishment consistently and around the clock.  According to the Angels, a part of us never outgrows this need.  Getting up at 2 AM to eat may be an expression of that need, one that with patient self-monitoring and gentle redirection might be met in some other, less sleep-disruptive or calorie-laden way.

At the very least, if this is an issue for you and you wish to address it, remember to plan what you will eat.  Don't leave yourself to the mercy of a hungry baby at 2 AM.  If you have a good idea you might wake up hungry, decide what you will eat ahead of time and perhaps even prepare some or part of it.  Peanut or almond butter on crackers with a glass of milk or a hot cup of tea, warm milk, or cereal are examples of ways to meet the need without eating high-calorie or highly processed foods that leave you feeling bad about yourself.   While you may not be able to prevent yourself from waking up hungry in the middle of the night, remember that you are in control of what you choose to eat. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Karen's Angel Way Reading

It's not Sunday, but I couldn't wait to share my recent Angel Way reading that Annie did for me a few days ago. Being a good eater (and exerciser) I don't often need a reading... but I was perplexed by how I was feeling lately and could not pinpoint anything specific that would attribute to what I was experiencing.

Annie asked me to describe how I felt. I told her:
I'm feeling tired but not the kind of tired that comes from feeling overwhelmed or from lack of sleep. I've been attributing how I feel to the weather -- who wouldn't feel lethargic with all this snow! But this usually lasts me a few days and then I get over it. I'm not feeling depressed, either. I'm eating well but feel like something is missing.

Annie responded:
"Magnesium. Minerals. I'm seeing minerals. Do you take a multimineral? What about your B-vitamins, are you getting as much as you think you are? Can you take smaller doses of your vitamins throughout the day so you have a sustained level to work with the foods you eat?"
As soon as she said minerals, a lightbulb went off in my mind. I don't take a multimineral.
Sustained level also resonated with me because I often start the day with plenty of get-up but I run out of steam faster.

I went to a few of my favorite nutrition sources and looked-up foods rich in magnesium. I wanted to identify if I had these foods in my diet in sufficient amounts for my activity level. I also wanted to identify if I craving any of these? Sure enough, both were true for me. here's what I learned:

Nuts and pumpkin seeds are magnesium rich, as are garbonzo beans (chick peas) and yogurt. I had been eating a lot of these foods through the first of the year, but got sick of the same ole stuff so had reduced them in my diet in recent weeks so I wasn't eating much of these, lately. I also had a longing for bananas but the selection in the store was so poor, I stopped buying. I was eating lots of things with tomato or tomato sauce-- even though it's not tomato season around here. I cross-referenced potassium and sodium in foods and saw that I was in need of these minerals in my diet, too. I realized I wanted the salt in the seasonings used with the tomatoes (and everything else, like crackers and pretzles) that I was nibbling on. Bananas, nuts, beans and meats -- all things I either typically eat alot of and/or was recently craving (so not eating much of lately) all made the list. Annie's reading was accurate-- I needed minerals.

I won't go into the nutritonal science, but minerals, especially these three, are critical to the function of the nerves (conduction of signals across the nervous system), regulation of heart rate and blood pressure, and have roles in other aspects of brain function. Potassium, in fact, is critical to the function of every cell in the body. To ME, that = energy conduction.

Sometimes, life with kids and writing and family obligations gets so busy, I don't pay attention to what's going on with me and my nutritional needs. The Angel Reading pointed me in the right direction. I'm aware of the source of the cravings-- a need for these minerals during this 'dark time of the year' and a need to compliment my healthy diet with a good mineral supplement. It'll be a few weeks before the changes I make in my diet and taking a new supplement can manifest in my energy level getting back up to par. Good things come to those who wait :)

Thanks Annie!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Coming Soon to The Angel Way Blog

In addition to our new post schedule (Annie on Wed., Karen on Sun.), we will be adding Pages to the ETAW Blog:

1. Annie's Page
2. Karen's Page both will feature bios and little known facts about each of us (or something to that effect!)
3. Angel Way Recipes -- ours and yours, so be sure to send your favorite dishes to Annie

In the mean time, if you would like to learn more about Annie-- she has a Facebook page. Karen has a FB page as well as a new website featuring visionary interviews with Caroline Myss, Wayne Dyer, Donna Eden and many others. Other topics include natural health, holistic parenting and metaphysical fiction/suspense.

What should I eat when I'm sick? (a repeat and an update of one of our most popular posts!)

What to eat when you are sick depends on what kind of illness you have, obviously, but the Angels offer these simple ideas as a general guideline:

Fluids, in almost any form - teas, juices, clear broths, and plain water - are usually beneficial no matter what kind of bug you've got.   Chicken soup contains antibacterial agents that make it nature's antibiotic.  My neurologist recommends chicken soup to patients recovering from migraines as well because of its restorative properties.  Teas with lemon, lemonade, and orange juice are all good for colds.  Honey is another natural anti-bacterial agent that can soothe a sore throat. 

Ginger or peppermint teas are a good way to ease an ailing digestive tract.  Also, don't forget your basic BRAT diet - bananas, rice, applesauce and toast - when recuperating from a stomach bug. 

Avoid heavy dairy foods - even yogurt can be too much when you are fighting a cold.  A scrambled or boiled egg might be a good white-light food choice, for example. Gelatin is another white-light food that's slips down a sore throat and sits easy in a queasy tummy.  The idea is not to tax your system when it is already under stress.  Instead, try to stay as hydrated as possible, and take in as many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in their natural state as possible.

The reason for this is explained by Dr. Andrew Weil - a botanist turned medical doctor - who explains that whole plants contain the compounds we recognize as beneficial in a delicate relationship with the other components of the plant.  We don't yet completely understand how these chemicals and compounds interact with each other, but it's clear that our bodies process and derive more benefit from nutrients ingested as a plant than from those in isolation.  In other words, it's better to get your vitamin A from carrots, than from a vitamin pill. 
For this reason, the Angels remain neutral on the use of supplements.  For many women, for example, additional supplements of B vitamins - which are water soluble - can be beneficial when you feel stressed or under assault from cold germs.  Also, it's important to get some sunlight this time of year - 20 minutes between 10 and 2 with appropriate sunscreen depending on how fair you are is a good idea as often as you can - or as weather permits!

Chinese herbs such as astragulus root can be added to stews, soups, casseroles or teas. One good rule of thumb the Angels suggest we might all remember is that to strengthen the body's energetic system, strengthen the intensity of the colors you eat. Cranberries, squashes, lemons, spinach and elderberries are examples of intensely colored foods in their chakra categories...and if all you ate were these five through the winter you'd be nourishing yourself quite well.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's in YOUR (winter) rainbow?

It's snowing yet again as I write this and the past several days have been the kind of frigid that makes the hairs in your nose freeze the minute you take a breath.   This is also the kind of weather that makes me want to stay inside, curled up on the couch with a good book, or hunkered over a stove, stirring up something warm and wonderful.  Because we're mammals, there are biological reasons so many of us can pack on extra pounds this time of year, or in general become sluggish or sleepy.  It can be easy as the temperatures drop to retreat into our nests of sweaters and down coats and reach for the chips or the chocolate.

But winter - as well as our modern lifestyles - can also demand intense - if infrequent - levels of physical fitness.  Snowy sidewalks need shoveling, ice makes keeping one's balance a matter of survival. Slowing down all together, allowing too many extra pounds to creep on, or hiding under the covers until spring is neither healthy nor feasible - for most of us.

Winter is a time to retreat, to go within, to take time to nurture and nourish yourself.  Spend time to consider what it is you choose to nurture, spend time considering what it is you need.  Good food, fresh water and exercise are all things your body needs no matter what the season or time of year. 
The Angels urge all of us to consider how we might nurture our winter needs in the most loving way possible for ourselves.  Someone with a strong urge to hibernate might create a cocoon of flannel or fleece.  Those who find themselves drawn to comfort foods might explore how to create those foods themselves, using the healthiest ingredients. 

The Angels urge us to pay attention to our "winter" rainbows.  They say that we may confuse cravings for brown, sweet or fat  foods for  cravings for red, orange and yellow foods - foods that we may find less readily available or more expensive during the winter.  They urge us to spend some time thinking about what we're really craving, and then to embrace our need for sweetness or cushioning or grounding in ALL its forms - and not limit our sensory experiences of these sensations to taste.  They also urge us to consider that our bodyminds thrive not just on food and water - they also thrive on air. 

Air, or oxygen, is a critical element for our optimum functioning.  Aerobic exercise, even gentle walking, helps bathe our cells in oxygen.  Joining a gym or a yoga studio is one solution, but a program done at home - even for ten or fifteen minutes a day - can make a difference in how well we navigate treacherous winter walkways or how sore we are after shoveling. 

Gingerbread, split pea soup and chicken pot pie are some of my favorite cold-weather comfort foods.   Please share, if you would like...what are some of yours?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Overcoming Resistance

I hate the Winter. There is nothing more that I would like to do than hibernate in New England from November through February, and maybe some of March, too. Since I'm not a grizzly and I can't fly south, I'm stuck here. And I fight with myself on an almost daily basis to get myself motivated to do anything. Granted, my kids will get me outside for sledding, but its only because of them that I overcome my own resistance to being outdoors in sub-freezing temps to, of all things, PLAY!

But there's something my bodymind seems to want more than anything at this time of year... rest, recuperation, and really comforting foods. As I overcome my resistance to the cold and get out there to move my body and carry on with the rhythms of life, I hear my body whisper its cravings to my soul.

When I overcome resistance to Jack Frost's nasty cold spells, and I'm out there making snow angels, I'm doing something good for my bodymind. And when the kids and I return indoors, we seek the comforts of the soul: hearty soups, grilled cheese on fresh baked whole grain breads, earthy foods like carrots, sweet potato skins, and refreshing orange slices (to remind me that the sun is shining, hot and bright, someplace on Earth!). We cozy into the blankets with our warm dark chocolate milk and spend the afternoon with books and games and movies.

If you are feeling resistant to something in your life-- and in the case of ETAW, what you do or do not choose to eat-- ask yourself this question: IF I choose to overcome resistance to a change I know is good/healthy for me to make, what comforts for the soul might I find on the other side of overcoming resistance?

After all, shouldn't more of life be about comfort and joy?

Stay warm!