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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!