Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bottling joy

Joy. A feeling of great pleasure. Bliss. Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness.

Good stuff when we can have it.

Some days, though, we need to dig deep for joy. Things don't always go as we hoped, frustration or sadness can set in, and it can seem too hard to uncover and polish the nuggets of joy buried deep within the challenges of everyday life.

I've told you before about some of the little things that make me happy. For me, it's always a welcome surprise when it's something quite small that brings on a great big feeling of happiness and gratitude.

Big things don't happen every day for any of us, so it's always been more satisfying to me when there are opportunities to notice and honor the ordinary as extraordinary.

I've always thought that it would be a major triumph if we could bottle joy or a good attitude and pass it out to those in need. But life is hard work for all of us and it seems experience can be our best teacher.

It's been proven over and over that when we acquire good things too easily, many times we don't perceive the full value they deserve. So maybe handing out bottles of joy to others would seem trivial and suspect.

So, yes, I frequently think about this kind of stuff as part of the journey I'm on.

Speaking of journeys, I have what I consider a lengthy commute to and from work, which gives me some time, yes, to think about work. Most importantly, I like to use the time to ponder what's great about life on this good earth.

In the car at a stoplight not too long ago, for no particular reason, all of a sudden I felt I would burst with an emotion. I hadn't really been thinking about anything special, but I quickly identified the emotion as joy. The more that I was sure it was joy, the purer the emotion was.

The experience was a blip in time that felt like an eternity, leaving me with a fond memory and a desire to recapture the state. But later I knew I was lucky to have felt joy so strongly once and had no right to expect that I could command that bliss at will.

I wasn't sure what triggered this sudden and amazing release of emotion. I can remember the exact spot on my route where this happened.

My car was not idling by a happy family on a corner, I had no view of a majestic tree, and I was not observing beautiful clouds move across the sky. I was not even thinking about any of the family and friends or other things that make me happy. I was just existing. Being.

To be exact, at this time I was waiting patiently in front of a sad, dilapidated and abandoned building for the green sign to go. Why did joy come to me there?

Why was this intense feeling of joy surging through every cell in my physical body? Was everything all lined up and perfect in my life? No. Were there any challenges I faced in my day-to-day? Yes.

I couldn't put my finger on it. What was this volcanic and joyful emotion erupting from within me?

I didn't know for sure the source, but I knew it was real and recognizable as joy. I didn't need to know why, but still it interested me.

Maybe it was a culmination of a lot of little things that made me so happy. Taking time to recognize the small stuff that's good can certainly help keep me appreciative and grateful.

Some days are tougher than others for any of us, but I truly believe that perspective helps keep negative thoughts in check for me.

Any time I start to question why things aren't going so well, I try to snap myself back and acknowledge the things that are good. I hold myself accountable and remind myself that there's so much to be grateful for.

Besides, I've learned, it's never really any fun to attend a pity party for one.

Fostering joy undeniably takes some work. On a daily basis, I work hard to be positive. I'm not always successful, but I guess that's why some of the things I do to bring joy in my life are called a practice.

I take yoga classes when I can. I try to keep a gratitude journal. I even sign up for and navigate through online challenges to meditate daily. All these practices contribute to my joyful perspective. Things don't always go as planned and I don't have it all down pat.

But that's why it's called a practice. Life is practice. I always say we're not done until we're done.

Author and spiritual teacher Anne Wilson Schaef, who writes about personal growth and healing, wrote a paperback, Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much, that I keep within easy reach.

Every day I read the easily digestible and thought-provoking meditation for the calendar date and look at the few minutes I spend to read the day's entry as a well-deserved gift to myself.

Wilson Schaef's June 30 entry is titled "Joy and Happiness."  The author calls out a quote by a spiritual teacher, author, and lecturer I follow and admire, Marianne Williamson:

"Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are."

After the quote, Wilson Schaef goes on to provide her own commentary on joy. The author shares that a particular phrase has become quite important to her. "I'm quite happy."

Wilson Schaef recounts all the times and places she bursts out with those three words: driving down the road, watching a favorite TV show with her purring cat on her lap, working at her desk.

"A strange phenomenon occurs at these times," Wilson Schaef explains. "I have discovered that when the words actually form, I am even happier."

I can buy into that thinking. Being positive brings more positivity.

So here I am a few days ago, driving on my long morning commute to work. Once again, I found myself thinking about my experience that day not so long ago and how that joyful interlude has stuck with me since.

Hmm, I remembered that I had a draft of a blog entry on joy sitting and waiting for me to make the time to finish and post.

I remembered how I pondered the good that could result if we could bottle euphoric joy to help ourselves and others.

I continued on my drive to work.

I can picture the exact spot as a I navigated a curve. The trees were proudly showing me the fall colors of their foliage while my eyes darted back and forth across the road to be sure no deer was ready to run.

For no particular reason, or maybe it was the inspiration of the display of fall colors, I decided to repeat out loud in my mind, "I am so lucky to be on this beautiful good earth. I am so lucky to be on this beautiful good earth!"

I am so lucky to be on this beautiful good earth—a phrase that has come to me naturally over the years as I've thought seriously about all the beauty nature provides and realized that complaining about trivial stuff gets me nowhere.

I am so lucky to be on this beautiful good earth!!

Suddenly I felt a mini wave of tingling gratitude and joy!

It wasn't the euphoric burst I experienced that time before, but, hey, I wasn't about to belittle the reality that I just experienced what I thought was impossible.

On just an ordinary day, on a typical commute to work, I triggered a physical feeling of pure joy through the power of positive thinking!

So maybe we can bottle joy. Maybe anything is possible when we practice.

What brings you joy? I'd love to hear.

Until next time, yours in striving for happy bliss and joy...Therese


Monday, August 12, 2013

Game on now

Sometimes I feel bad when I receive an invite to play games on Facebook. But then I don't. When I joined the social network years ago I made a decision to never play the online games. It's been easier than you may think to stick to this. I  just don't want to lose precious time addictively slinging angry birds, mostly since I can anticipate how much time I could surrender competing for the next level.

Right from the start I saw online games for the time suck they were. It was all around me. A friend was clearly addicted to Mafia Wars. She compared it, I think, to cocaine. Not that she'd ever known what that was like, I'd guess. But she said she couldn't stop. If she was on Facebook and didn't play, her "life" would be in peril. She'd be a goner if she didn't actively play and take down others before they got to her.

Sheesh! What stress! I go online to relax, so I knew I'd never want to play a game where I'd need to be constantly on guard to defend my existence, even though it may only be virtual. That game was definitely not for me!

And then I have friends who play FarmVille. So-and-so needs you to watch her baby calf while she goes into town. And she also needs you to water her lettuce while she's gone to market. For real? If I had time to play FarmVille, then I'd be watering lettuce in a garden of my own. Certainly no online games for me.

But then I was invited to play Words with Friends. Now that would stimulate my intellect, I was sure. All my lovely nerdy-wordy friends were playing. Still I did not give in to temptation. If I have time to play with words, I thought, I'd rather read a book, write a blog post, or better yet, start doing something with the ideas for books that are aching to pour out of my head.

So I made a commitment that I'd never play games online or on Facebook. I resolved that the only game I was interested in was the art of conversation, since it gives me great pleasure to keep in touch with friends from my life now and then.

MyFitnessPal.com is the game I now choose to play.
Then came MyFitnessPal.com. It's been eight weeks now, and it seems I'm playing an online game. A game tracking my foodie life. I'm addicted and it's fun. I "play" on my phone app and on my laptop. I track my meals and snacks, taking great pleasure in seeing the good stuff I'm eating. There's even a payoff at the end of each day and week where I feel like a winner.

Let me back up. Work is always offering some healthy fitness challenge and I took one on recently. Lose to Win it's called. A corporate play on The Biggest Loser. Teams are formed to motivate each other to eat healthy and work out together. The team who loses the most wins. Not sure what could be won in addition to better health, but that's not the point here.

The point was I didn't think I could join since I don't need to lose big. I wondered whether I'd be eligible since I'm already a fan of healthy eating and exercise.

But the rules were that even if you only wanted to lose five pounds, it was all about learning and reinforcing good habits and such. I thought about how the eight-week program would take me through bathing suit season. So who wouldn't want to lose five pounds of wintery jiggle that's been hiding under looser clothing? And so I was game for the challenge, if I may say.

And that's where I was introduced to MyFitnessPal.com. As a lifetime Weight Watchers (WW) member having lost 35 pounds of "baby/lack of exercise" weight over 24 years ago, I've always known that the key to weight loss and maintenance is the right combo of healthy eating and exercise. I've come to accept that it really isn't easy for me to maintain a comfortable weight doing one without the other.

Knowledge isn't everything though. You also need to walk the talk. I may know what I need to do to maintain, but sometimes it's easier said than done.

Weight Watchers has certainly taught me that keeping a food journal is a valuable tried-and-true technique to reach a weight loss goal. And with great intentions I've seriously kept many paper weekly food diaries on and off in my 24 years losing and maintaining the same five to ten pounds.

Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. 

I always say frame of mind is the third key to weight loss, besides healthy eating and exercise. In my 24 years of staying near or at goal, I've slowly inched up time and again before I'd say enough is enough and snap myself back into losing mode to get back on track.

Whenever I'd reach that point, I'd pull out a WW journal to track my food intake and see where I was going off. Sometimes it all would just click for me and I'd easily adjust to get back in line.

But other times I just didn't care enough if I had to write "three handfuls of peanut M&Ms" as my protein and "potato chips" or "popcorn" as my vegetable.

So here I was again. Experiencing once again that healthy eating alone doesn't work if you're not burning the calories. I started skipping exercise here and there to work a few extra hours on a weeknight or snooze a bit later on the weekend.

And then a grandchild was born and I saw that skipping workouts could easily turn my body into a grandma.

No! I wouldn't let it happen, I resolved. Time to nip it all in the bud. I needed once again to course-correct. One thing I've learned all these years is to try hard to never let myself go five pounds over my WW goal.

Some vivid images painted indelibly in my mind from an exceptionally good, long-time-ago WW lecture are always great inspiration to get me back on track.

Gaining just a few pounds doesn't seem like a big deal until I imagine I have:
  1. A three-pound bag of potatoes hanging off my butt;
  2. A five-pound sack of flour plopped on my stomach; or
  3. A few one-pound canned goods bulging from my legs here and there.
Okay! I'm ready to get serious again.

So back to MyFitnessPal.com. The app helps me see that calories are calories. Doesn't matter how healthy and good the food is. If you're taking in too many and not expending them, you add on the poundage. That's just plain ol' science.

Yes, I could still use pen and paper to keep my food diary. But this online experience is proving to be more fun and keeping me motivated.


It's easy to play the game and enter your food choices to keep yourself on track through the day.
 















With both the phone app and the desktop experience, to name just a few of the capabilities, you can:
  • Easily search for foods in the exhaustive database and enter new foods, if you like.
  • Scan bar codes for fun and convenient food entry.
  • Adjust serving sizes if you're not eating the exact amount that's listed.
  • Enter ingredients for recipes you like and create your own recipe box to use again and again.
  • Customize the columns in your view to track the nutritional info you care about. (I removed the carbohydrates column, since I "heart" carbs and would rather track fiber, along with calories, protein, fat, sodium, and sugar.)
  • Track your exercise to add calories to your allotment bank. You can choose to spend them on more food or you can use the deficit to lose pounds:
    *You've earned 371 extra calories from exercise today.
  • Fill up a virtual glass of water to help ensure you're drinking enough fluid.
  • Connect with all the major social networks and participate in community chats for ideas, motivation, and support.
At the end of the day, clicking on a button at the bottom of your food log completes your daily entry and gives you a clear indication of your potential for success in reaching your goal:

"If every day were like today... You'd weigh xxx lbs in 5 weeks." Nice motivation if you're playing the game to feel good and win! 

So yes, I'm addicted to this food diary game, but no biggie, since no one is attempting to snuff out my virtual life and I'm always the winner.

In the first two weeks using the app I was rewarded for my dedication and lost over six pounds. But most importantly I've dedicated myself again to my exercise program and toning up, losing inches as I burn fat and make muscle. Never a bad idea during swimsuit season.

So I'm playing a game, I'd say. This online food diary experience confirms, however, that I was right to make the decision not to play online games. I'd get seriously involved with the potential to spend too much time on them!

So no Bejeweled Blitz or Bubble Safari for me. Just MyFitnessPal.com.

Game on.

Until next time, yours in healthy eating and playing well at the game of life... Therese

I'm not being compensated in any way by MyFitnessPal.com. Numerous other food tracking websites and apps are available online and for mobile devices. I chose this experience based on a recommendation from a friend and I haven't been disappointed. Choosing one is a matter of personal preference and success depends on level of engagement. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Respecting the crickets

Crickets.

Silence. All I could hear was the crickets. The silence was palpable. 
For those not familiar with the idiomatic expression "crickets," well, it means that what was said was a conversation-stopper. There was silence after something said and all that could be heard was the sound of crickets.

Another way we say this is: "After she said that, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop."

That's how it felt after my last blog entry on my interest in spirituality.

Hmm. How to take that, I thought. Don't think too much about it, I tell myself, yet I do. I can see on my blogger dashboard that people are clicking on the link. Different possibilities came to my mind:

People clicked but didn't read.
People read but didn't agree, like or care.
People agreed or were interested, but thought nothing more.
People just thought I was weird.

Yes, I am weird. Okay, I'm fine with that.

But mostly I imagined the silence was judgement. I felt vulnerable. I knew this was my own insecurity to deal with. I was not necessarily seeking approval, but it felt uncomfortable to potentially be misunderstood.

In my quest to write and share on this silly blog did I let go more of myself than I wanted to?

I sang to myself a play on one of my favorite R.E.M. songs.

"Oh no, I've shared too much, I haven't shared enough."

I could turn the whole thing off or face how I felt, grow some, and work through the self-acceptance challenge I presented myself with, since I was sure this was my own thing to deal with and no one else was probably even giving it the second thought that I was.

I chose to continue on through my feelings of vulnerability and grow.

This is why, I realized, I don't talk about religion or politics with others. There's a reason I'm private about these topics. I don't mind listening to others, but sharing on these topics is more difficult for me if it doesn't feel safe with an atmosphere open to differing opinions.

A social network probably wasn't the place to share, I thought. I have no issues discussing these topics with close family and friends. But hey, I'm looking to grow here and thought maybe there'd be some like-minded folks to converse with.

I read and re-read what I wrote. I didn't regret what I had written. I was being true to my own thoughts. Spirituality is not a curse word. It's a good thing, albeit, at times, misunderstood.

Would there have been responses if I made it clear that I am still Catholic, the religion I was born into? Would people have "liked" my post if it explicitly mentioned that, in addition to being spiritual, I believe in God?

I hope that's not the case since I'd like to think that those who know me care about me because I am a good person and not whether I hold the same beliefs as them or not.

The point of my post, though, wasn't about my own religious beliefs. It was to share how exciting it is for me to learn about other religions and observe the similarities in belief systems across the world.

I raised my children in the religion I was born into. I went to Catholic grade school, high school, and college. I taught CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) classes for more than eleven years through my church.

As many do, I provided a foundation as I saw fit for my own children. I never told any of them that I expected them to be married in our faith or in the Catholic church, yet they all chose to be married in the church. I know they knew I would love them all the same no matter.

I like belonging somewhere. I think we all do. Everyone finds places to belong that make them feel right in the world. It's different for us all. I don't believe it's my place to judge what's right or wrong for others.

I told you before I think a lot. Probably more than for my own good, as you can guess from my posts. It's what I like to do, though. So I continued to analyze the situation.

I also considered that my statement that I identify more as spiritual than religious was misunderstood or possibly surprised some. I contemplated that I didn't do a good job explaining what that meant for me.

Being "religious" can mean "a faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity." With that as the definition, then I am religious. I choose to pray to God, in the religion I was born into.

But I'm so fine with someone else who is devoted to Buddha, Allah, or a Universal Light that created All That Is Good. Hmm, I understand that others may not feel comfortable with that idea, but that's okay. They don't have to. It's my belief.

"Religious" can also mean "devoted to religious beliefs or observances." Here's where I've developed my own thoughts about some man-made religious rules.

Although I enjoy the spirit of community and belonging, I no longer thankfully worry as I did as a child that I will be damned to hell for eternity if I do not follow the religious guideline and I miss Sunday mass. It's my spiritual belief that I can be in communion 24/7 with the God I pray to, and I prefer that over just reserving one hour on Sunday.

Another point I made is that I don't agree there is one true religion. This belief goes back to my days at La Salle University. It was a wondrous awakening through required religion courses I took when I learned about world religions.

I remember going home each night to share with my parents at the dinner table what I was learning about other religions and the commonalities I could see across them all. I could see then we were all so different, yet so much the same.

My parents were also amazed to hear what I was learning. Before that opportunity for me to be the first in our family to receive a higher education, we all had only been exposed to what we knew and heard about our own religion. La Salle University gave me that perspective that I would not have easily had access to otherwise.

Many years ago, one Sunday, a parish priest at the time gave a homily that left much in my mind to be desired. Without going into unnecessary detail of the many awful examples he made, the priest went on and on with much obvious disdain for others, that Catholicism was the one true religion, and that anyone who thought anything different was "pathetic." His harsh, unforgiving word.

At the end of the homily he had to read weekly announcements, which for that day happened to be an invitation to join an upcoming interdenominational ecumenical service, a gathering across churches and religions to promote unity. How hypocritical he sounded!

Crickets in the church. We could have definitely heard a pin drop. I'd surmise that no one thought the lecture was appropriate. Everyone left mass that day in silence, which says a lot considering the number in attendance.

After the mass, my husband and I were obviously indignant. How could this priest say these things to us? How dare he put down all those good people who follow other religions, including Judaism?

Jesus was a Jew! We ourselves have friends from across so many religions! How could he say those things in the name of goodness and God? My parents who had been at mass with us seemed dazed and confused.

When hubby and I explained what bothered us about the unnecessary and lengthy criticism of other religions in this priest's homily, my parents who grew up "old school" acknowledged that the talk didn't seem right and they felt uncomfortable, but they weren't sure what to think.

They admitted they were accustomed to just following along with whatever the Church and higher authorities taught them to believe, but what he said didn't seem right. No, it wasn't.

I am not telling you this story as an argument to go against my own religion. I can imagine a similar proclamation like this being made by any small-minded person in any religion or non-religion, in any city, in any country. This specific commentary is attributed to one particular person, not an organized religion as a whole.

I choose not to "throw out the baby with the bath water," another idiomatic expression used to suggest an avoidable error in which something good is eliminated when trying to get rid of something bad, or in other words, rejecting the essential along with the inessential.

I don't throw out my religion because one person said something I don't like or there's a rule that I'm not exactly in agreement with. I have been educated to make my own decisions.

I do not feel a need to leave my religion because of one person's prejudice and bigotry or even the inappropriate actions of a larger group within the organization.

I am free to make my own decision about what I believe and don't believe. I choose not to believe what this one person shared about other religions.

Catholic Charities is a worldwide network of charities whose aim is to "reduce poverty, support families, and empower communities."

The mission of Catholic Charities agencies is to provide service to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures, and to call the entire church and other people of good will to do the same.

This is the catholic, universal church I am proud to belong to.

My Lasallian education has provided me with the tools to make good and thoughtful decisions about what is right and wrong for me. In the tradition of the Christian Brothers, based on the teachings of innovative educator John Baptiste de La Salle, La Salle University offers quality education founded on the idea that one's intellectual and spiritual development go hand in hand.

"The University strives to foster an environment of faith which produces a reciprocal respect among all persons in the community and to establish an atmosphere in which community members may openly bear witness to their convictions on world peace and social justice."

Lasallian schools welcome students of all faiths, believers and nonbelievers alike. The Lasallian approach to teaching and learning is based on the idea that education is how we give back to others
that we can only truly understand ourselves in relation to the world and the people that surround us.

At the end of the day, it's my personal hope and prayer that we treat each other the way we want to be treated and can respect all good, even when it's different from our own homegrown definition. We can agree to disagree and still respect what we don't understand or agree with, without changing our own belief system.

I didn't write all this and touch on the topic of religion again to change anyone else's beliefs. Rather, my goal is to expand that this is my journey, my quest to share my own resolution to understand other perspectives and look at the good in someone before I inappropriately reserve a judgement about their beliefs or non-beliefs.

In my previous post I didn't explicitly share my religious beliefs to make the point about my own interest in spirituality and world religions.

Although my religious beliefs shouldn't matter to anyone but me, the silence, which may have meant nothing, compelled me to close a circle I started to draw.

I respect that not everyone is interested in the topics I am, but I do hope always that the people of this world can respect differences in each other.

At the end of the day, I'm thankful for this exercise I put myself through. I can only resolve to work on myself, try not to take things personally, and respect the crickets.

Until next time, respectfully yours...Therese

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spirituality rocks

Earth's sky and clouds inspire me.
I'm ready to shout it from the rooftops. Spirituality rocks!

Always willing to share my love of food or my passion for all things natural, I'm also happy to publicly declare my position on spirituality.

Fully acknowledging my interest and my thirst to explore more on the topic makes me feel, shall I say, all warm and tingly... and spiritual.

What is "spiritual"?

1. Of, relating to, consisting of, or having the nature of spirit; not tangible or material.

2. Of, concerned with, or affecting the soul.

This is an exciting time for me.

Spirituality is a satisfying indulgence. Spirituality is uncertain, emotional, illogical, not rational. In so many ways, we are all called to, no, required to, be solid and practical every day. But I need more.
 
Exploring spirituality feeds my creative spirit and allows me to consider and engage in otherworldly potential.

I certainly wouldn't be considered shy in the social media landscape and I'm fairly certain I'm considered outgoing in social situations. But deep inside, I'm a very private person.

As many of you may also, I've got this whole inner dialogue going that I don't regulary share. But here and there I get really excited about the conversation with myself and I want to share it with others.

Concepts of spirituality intrigue me. Buying books on the topic, watching shows featuring spiritual leaders, researching on the web, formulating and refining my own ideas. This is all yet another adventurous phase in my life-long quest to learn.

This certainly isn't the first time I've explored the topic, though. I've touched on the theme of spirituality here before in this hodgepodge blog of mine.

It's always so interesting to observe the conversations and declarations on social networks.

Frequently there are posts and comments about organized religion from one end of the belief spectrum to the other.

I myself don't really comment on religion or politics in the social landscape. That's the more private side of me. I review what folks are thinking and feeling, though, and it prompts me in my own discovery and thought process.
 
I see the arguments from all perspectives. Everyone is so certain they are right. It's really interesting to watch.
 
Religion is man-made

Religion has been around a really long time. Some detractors argue that organized religion is a man-made invention to keep the masses in check.
 
Petronius Arbiter (c. 27 - 66 AD), a Roman courtier during the reign of Nero, wrote, "It is fear that brought gods into the world."

Edgar Allen Poe said what many think: "All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry."
 
Even if you agree with those statements, you have to admit it's pretty cool that these "man-made" religions popped up all over this good earth throughout time. 
 
Going back further than we can all imagine, human beings who didn't know of each other were all coming up with these "organized" ways to explain the essence of life and how they came to be. These world religions are all so different, yet all so similar.

I think Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950) made a striking point when he said, "There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it."

Martin Buber, an Austrian-born Israeli Jewish philosopher (1868 -1965) said, "God made so many different kinds of people. Why would he allow only one way to serve him?"
 
It's a study unto itself to research the multitude of names for God that exist across world religions. Sufis poetically call out the 99 names for God or the most beautiful names of Allah

For still others, the word God doesn't resonate or hold any meaning. Some spiritual thinkers call what they feel to be good and true, the energy source of all that is, the origin of all love, "The Universal Light."

It seems more than a coincidence, though, that the theme of universal light and the concept of goodness are repeated over and over across many religious and spiritual expressions. Even science and evolutionism acknowlege principles of energy, dark, and light.

The Universal Light
Not sure who to attribute this image to since I see it so many places on the Internet.
Yeah, so what if religion is man-made? What's wrong with respecting that some people like that structure and the opportunity to belong to a community of like-minded folks? That's what this country is built on.
 
Those who despise religion don't like what can be bad about it. There's always someone who gives something good a bad name. Good and bad reside in all people and institutions. We're all well aware of the bad when we see it. But are we always open enough to recognize the good? Or is it too easy to use the bad as an excuse to refute the good?

Over time, yes, religion has been the cause of violence, wars, discrimination, pain, and suffering. But so have other man-made institutions. It's not an exclusive club.
 
We all have a right to comment and share our beliefs. I'll be the first to humbly admit that I'm not qualified to judge others or make an absolute statement on who's right or wrong on the issue of religion. 

I'm grateful to live in a country that by law allows us to decide for ourselves. How we judge each other outside the law is another story.
 
All that said, the diametrically opposed opinions and arguments witnessed on social networks have actually ignited my own interest in spirituality and common elements across world religions.

Spirituality vs. Religion

As I explore my own spirituality, it's been interesting to note that a lot of spiritual leaders may belong to a certain religion that maybe they were born into, but they don't feel they have to be religious to be spiritual.

I've felt that way myself for a very long time. I was very involved teaching catechism while raising my own children since I felt it was beneficial to provide a great foundational start for young minds to think through their own beliefs as they grow and learn.

But through all my education in religioius-affiliated institutions and my own exploration and participation into adulthood, I more readily identify now as being spiritual than religious.  

My gut instincts (in no particular order)

Organized institutions of religion go wrong when they are more intent on proving there's one true religion, their own. That's a big turn off to many. That comes off as arrogant and elitist.

It's key to treat others the way you want to be treated. Whatever you believe, you can't go wrong if you follow this golden rule. No matter the outcome, you will feel better knowing you tried and did your best.

We, as humans, are amazing beings with so much potential. Every breath we take seems a miracle. Our bodies can do wonderful things. Our minds intrigue. Our souls inspire. We are like animals, we are like machines. We are amazing. We should never forget to acknowledge that in each other. 

We can choose good or evil. Most choose good, but that doesn't get as much press. A focus on evil only makes us sad, depressed, and bitter, which maybe is one goal of the evil-doer. Seeking what's right and true and spreading the word help us triumph over evil.

Living on this good earth is a gift. It's marvelous every day that we wake up again in this wondrous universe. The air, the trees, the sky, the clouds, the dirt. We are lucky to be here.

Whatever we believe, we can't go wrong if we practice together kindness, compassion, caring, tolerance, service, and community. Less time struggling and pointing out our differences could mean more time working next to each other on these admirable qualities. 

Great minds 

As part of my ongoing quest to learn, I like to research quotes of those whose impact has been positive, who've left a lasting mark in this world. 

I'm so drawn to the abounding wisdom of the Dalai Lama. He says, "This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness." 

Again, Dalai Lama says, "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."

British satirist Jonathan Miller once remarked, "In some awful, strange, paradoxical way, atheists tend to take religion more seriously than the practitioners."  Interesting perspective. 

Thomas Jefferson said, "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."  Yeah, Tom, you tell us. It's all about freedom of choice, folks. Do good, no harm. Let it be.

One of the greatest minds ever, Albert Einstein said, "My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance - but for us, not for God."   

Albert Einstein also said, "True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness." In my search for commentary on religion and spirituality, I'm amazed by how much Einstein commented on the topics

Mother Teresa said, "If you judge people, you have no time to love them."

Jesus of Nazareth said "Love your enemies!" He also said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." The intention with both statements is, I think, even when they are different from you. That would rock if we could do that. These are important lessons that our world still struggles to learn.

Swami Brahmananda sums up the crux of the matter for me when he said, "There is no true religion or spirituality without kindness and love."


I agree. Those who spout goodness or holiness and then do things that aren't kind or loving give all that's good a bad name.
 
I don't know all the answers, for sure, and I don't feel I need to. I'll say it again that I'm here on this good earth to learn and I don't want to stop until I'm done.

Paint your masterpiece
as you see fit.
Make it your own.
Religion can be paint-by-number for some and that's okay. This can be a good thing. I loved and am proud of all the paint-by-number paintings I've done in my time.

Practicing spirituality, though, for me is now a blank canvas that I'm free to paint what I'd like outside the lines using whatever colors I want. I'm heartily taking this art class and diving right in to learn everything I can. 

I want to absorb from all the world masters today and before me, pursuing the opportunity to create my own spiritual masterpiece.

It's your choice: spirituality, religion or none of the above. To each his or her own. For me, it's all good where there's good.

Until next time, yours in creative spirituality...Therese

P.S. A friend's Facebook status on his religious views still tickles my funny bone:


At the end of the day, I'm glad to live in a country where we all have the right to practice or not practice as we'd like, to believe or not believe what we want, and to choose or not choose as we will. Thank you, founding fathers. For me, spirituality rocks, and so do you.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Chicken soup for my soul

Yes, I've been all happily spiritual and thinking curiously about the concept of souls lately, but no, I'm not writing here about the popular series of books by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen.

I'm talking about the real deal here: a nice pot of homemade chicken soup to heal my body and soul.

Chicken soup always hits the spot. No matter what's going on in my life or how I feel, the liquid gold warms my physical and spiritual soul. The stuff plainly makes me feel good.

What's the chicken soup recipe for success? There is no one right recipe. There are so many good ones to choose from.

Every Italian cookbook I own includes a good chicken soup recipe. I raised my children on chicken broth and pastina with Parmesan cheese.

Oh, that dish brings back great memories of my little ones dumping the bowl of slurpy goodness on their high chair tray to feed themselves their way and lick it all up clean in between warm smiles of happiness. To see that messy sight in my mind's eye brings a smile to my own face.

Sitting on my shelf is a cookbook that features chicken soups from around the world. I could read it like a bible. Through all the recipes' similarities and differences, it's apparently no secret across cultures that this comfort brew warms the soul and heals all sorts of maladies.

We all have access to a bazillion shared chicken soup recipes on the web - everyone's got a variation they deem the best.

But when I'm ready to simmer a pot myself, even though I generally love to try new recipes, I don't always crack a cookbook or search online for a new chicken soup recipe.

Usually when I need to be soothed and don't want to think too hard to put together a pot on my stovetop, I'm happy to fall back on my own standby recipe.

My recipe is nothing extraordinary. If anything, it's a pot of peasant food.

But that's what makes it so easy, special, heartwarming, and delicious to me.

I'm really into organic ingredients, so I won't label each as such in my recipe to avoid repetition, but basically, organic is a given for me. It's my lifestyle choice.

If organic ingredients aren't readily available where you live or you don't want to or can't spend the extra money (although I've noticed prices are coming down due to consumer demand), just be sure to scrub the synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers off your veggies really well before you use them.

It's better to eat this nutritious stuff grown the conventional way than to not eat it at all.

Organic chicken soup for the soul

(I should have a good picture here to motivate you to pin this recipe. Shame on me. I probably have one on my camera, but I'm a bit lazy right now. And I just cooked a pot this week and forgot to snap a pic! But I'll post this recipe anyway now and update later with a photo. For now, kindly use your imagination to visualize a beautiful pot of homemade soup!)

Ingredients
  • 1 or 2 pounds of boneless chicken thighs or breasts (you can use a cut-up whole chicken or chicken parts on the bone, but then you have an extra step to fish the chicken out of the pot, cool it, and de-bone it all later)
  • 1 pound of carrots (peeled baby carrots or sliced carrot coins, your preference) 
  • whole head of celery stalks, sliced in bite-sized chunks; include all the celery leaves also, but save the tender hearts (innermost celery ribs) to nibble on while your pot simmers
  • one or two large onions, chunked
  • 2 or 3 quarts of low-sodium chicken broth to cover
  • jar of tomato paste or leftover tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, whatever you prefer or are in the mood for or have in your fridge
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oregano, parsley, rosemary, bay leaves or whatever spices smell good to you and make you happy
  • egg noodles or pasta (a shape that holds the broth always works well, e.g., shells, orecchiette or try broken-up angel hair pasta, corkscrews, pastina...heck, any pasta you're in the mood for works)
  • grated Parmesan cheese for topping your hot bowl of soup
Directions
  1. Throw the chicken, carrots, celery, and onion in a large stock pot and cover with chicken broth. 
  2. Stir in tomato paste, sauce or diced tomatoes. Season to taste.
  3. Heat and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken meat falls apart easily. 
  4. Cook the noodles or pasta according to directions in its own pot of boiling water. I don't like to cook the pasta in the chicken soup since the noodles will absorb all the yummy broth.
Some recipes say to discard the veggies, that all their goodness is now in the broth. No! I couldn't do that! No good peasant cook would discard the veggies! They fill you up. And besides, I like all those chunky, bite-sized veggies in my soup.

Even though the recipe above seems loosey-goosey, it can be even more so. I change it up a bit every time I make this. This week I added a small head of cabbage to the mix, quartered and chunked. The cabbage added great flavor.

If you like mushrooms, throw some in. Try fresh green beans or corn. Whatever makes you happy at the moment. Make it your own.

Now here are the best directions of all:
  1. Fill a good-sized pasta bowl with plenty of noodles.
  2. Ladle broth, veggies, and big chunks of tender chicken over your pasta.
  3. Sprinkle loads of grated Parmesan on top.
  4. Grab a big soup spoon.
  5. Stick your head over the bowl.
  6. Inhale the steam.
  7. Slurp down your homemade goodness.
  8. Think about your mom, grandmom, or whoever made you chicken soup when you weren't feeling well. Think of someone special you make chicken soup for now.
  9. Feel the warmth of your chicken soup heal your body and soul.
  10. Enjoy the simple pleasure of a big pot of soup, some crusty bread, and life on this good earth.
  11. Share your soup with those you love, especially someone who could use some warmth and healing. 
  12. Refrigerate leftovers and relish the fact that you don't have to cook again right away since you can pull out your extra soup for the next meal or two.
Until next time, yours in healthy cooking and comfort food for your soul...Therese

P.S. Share here your secret ingredients for your own go-to chicken soup recipe. I'd love to hear all about it, foodie that I am.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Some holiday rules for me


I always enjoy a pink poinsettia at the holidays and after.
I like the red and cream also.
I'm on the tail end of my holiday vacation. This year I scheduled time off for a run of twelve consecutive days out of the office.

My twelve days of Christmas. How appropriate!

The end of my work year was quite busy and I know I'm going back to a packed 2013 right from the start, so I was really looking forward to this time off.

I always say we work twice as hard to be out of the office on vacation and three times as hard when we get back. Not complaining, for sure. So grateful to have a wonderful, stable job.

But it's apparent by my own sense of duty and obligation to do the best I can at whatever task is in front of me, that I'm still accomplishing the same amount of work I would if I never took vacation. I'm merely putting in the same effort in a condensed amount of time, working extra before and after.

The fact is I work hard to play hard. I like to share with you more the fun, the adventure, the living part of my life, though. With my blog titled "Working to Live," I surely don't want to talk about work here. I am working to live the life I want to live, not living to work.

Yet both the working and the living part of my life recently have been so intense that I know I haven't posted on my blog in way too long. I miss my blog. Chatting with someone about web technology and social networking at a dinner party the other night, I shared that I write a blog, one that I haven't set aside enough time to enjoy lately.
My personalized "Working to live"blog mug.
How could I forget the name of my blog?
It's been way too long, Blog. I miss you.

The dinner guest asked me what the name of my blog is. I drew a blank. I was dumbfounded. How could I forget something that was such a part of me? One of my daughters even had a custom "Therese" mug made for me last Christmas with my blog name and its tagline.

This wasn't good. I could see the mug I use all the time in my mind's eye, but I couldn't read the blog name. In that moment, I surely felt silly as I had to turn to hubby and ask what the name of my own blog is. I knew I was tired, but didn't realize how much. That was a sign to me.

Working to live. In true spirit, I've been playing hard this holiday season. Maybe too hard. Yes, I'm at home, but it's all still work, work, work, making a wonderful holiday for myself and my family. Staying up too late and always on the go. Really no different from most moms who are happy to do the same.

Not remembering the name of my own blog, though, this tired soul recognized that I need to do a little more living than working, whether at my job or in my home. I'm always there for everyone else. Maybe I need to do a little more living... just for me.

Every year as the holidays wind to a close, I think about what I've done well and what I can do better next year. It's my introspective nature to analyze what's just happened and consider what I can do better, yes, to make others happier, but also to make my own life easier next time, adding more joy and relaxation for me wherever possible.

So while it's all fresh in my mind, I've jotted down some holiday rules I'll try to live by, some reminders of what I'm glad I did and things to work on for myself next time, since that's the area I seem to be most lacking.

Enjoy my Christmas music collection and the noise of family. This I always do pretty well. Over the years I've acquired quite an eclectic assortment of holiday music. I know I could always turn on the cable channel to listen, but there's something very comforting about owning my own tunes and knowing what song is on next. There's a feeling of order that all is right in the world when I listen to my favorite music. The repetition from year to year is soothing and signifies the holiday for me.

And I certainly enjoy when everyone takes over the house and comes home to visit. There's excitement in the air as all family members pitch in to prepare for and celebrate the holiday. I truly love the happy noise of a bustling family.

Funny though, now that all are gone and the house is silent, I am just as content and happy. For as much fun as it was to listen to non-stop holiday music and a rowdy family, it's just as wonderful to hear the sound of silence now. The quiet house back to just hubby and me and our two long-haired Chihuahuas chomping on their small-breed kibble. We can do what we want, when we want.... Life is sweet.

Be done early with fuss-free presents. I did better this year, despite how crazy my work schedule was before the holiday. So many years I'm laying out presents after everyone goes to bed on Christmas eve and, with adult children, not because Santa had to visit. I just didn't have time to get it all done.

But this year I had everything under the tree and around the living room in holiday bags stuffed with festive tissues (wrapping eats up too much time) a few nights before. This doesn't happen too frequently for me. It felt good! I could concentrate on making holiday food then.

Make extra food for leftovers. Speaking of food, this really is never a problem for me. I love to make good food and lots of it. And holiday food is the best, so it's a no-brainer rule to keep. It's even easier now that I have grown children who love to help cook our holiday meals. It's so much fun to work with them.

The trick is to not make so much, though, that we get tired of it and it gets wasted. Mission accomplished this year. We've had just enough for a few good rounds of tasty meals to relish. We're especially happy when all the dishes are clean and we know we don't have to cook again for a few nights.

One thing to note about this year's holiday food: No yellow onion next year in the Christmas Eve orange and fennel salad. Too strong and it overpowered the blood orange juice dressing. Maybe a very little sweet onion. Or maybe none at all. I want to taste the orange and fennel more.

Wear jeans most days... or, at least, try them on. With all the good food around, I bargained with myself at the beginning of my time off how many days I'd wear jeans. Why wear jeans? One, because I could, with no office requirements for business casual attire. And two, because jeans are the perfect litmus test to tell you if you're eating too much. Wear sweats or loose pants every day when you're on holiday, and you'll grow into them. I know this from experience.

Hey, don't laugh! It works! It's day 9 and I can still zip up my jeans with ease. Am I in tip-top shape with less exercise and more food? Hell, no! But holiday muffin tops don't count! I'm okay to pay later to work those off in 2013. After all, a girl's gotta enjoy the good stuff and have some fun on vacation!

Eat fruitcake and drink eggnog. These foods may be "don'ts" on some holiday lists, but not with me. I love both of these generally disdained foods. If I don't make homemade fruited bread for the holiday season, I treat myself to a decadent all-natural fruitcake from Whole Foods. And I always have delicious eggnog on hand.

Whole Foods makes some really
 good all-natural fruitcake.
No fake red and green cherries,
 or whatever they are, here.
This year, however, I used all the eggnog in the rich, homemade sprouted wheat cereal I cooked for our Christmas morning brunch, along with the egg casserole, smoked applewood bacon, and fruit. 

Even though I may imbibe in the rich stuff, I don't want to go overboard and feel like I have to finish the whole carton of eggnog all by myself. My son was disappointed, though, when there wasn't some nog left to drink. Then I wished I had some myself.

Note to self: Don't forget to set some eggnog aside next year just for drinking. And don't forget to enjoy the foods I love.

Reserve time for family, friends, and helping others. This is a given. I try to do this regularly, so I have to include it, but maybe the new rule to list and strive for is...

Reserve time for me. This is where I need to do better. Note to self: Next year, don't wait until you're exhausted from all else to make time for yourself. Set aside some time here and there, so you don't get to that "can't easily come back" point when you know you have to stop or you'll get sick and regret that you didn't rest.

Make time to post on my blog. I always set a goal at the beginning of any vacation to take some extra time to write and share with you. I love to write, so why is it so hard to carve out this time for myself?  Tsk-tsk. It took me until day 9 of this 12-day vacation to do so. Need to work on this rule for next year.

Save some time for doing just nothing. This rule correlates back to time for myself. It's so much fun to see everyone and do lots of stuff over the holidays, but I've learned that it's not good to have something scheduled every day.

It's hard to turn down a great invite or a fun excursion, but I need to remember that I won't go back to work refreshed for the new year if I never left myself a moment to breathe and just be.

Read, read, read. Oh, I need to work on this big time. I crave to read every book, every magazine, every website, every blog. There's not enough time for it all. I love when I see friends post that they've just finished reading the latest best seller. I yearn for the day when I can regularly join them. Book club, anyone? Gotta make more time for reading every vacation, every holiday, every day in the new year.

Go to the movies at least once over the holiday. This year the movie I want to see in my time off is Les Misérables. Oh, there are a bunch more I want to see, but I'll be realistic and start with one. Back in our college days, hubby and I'd see a movie every night of the holiday break.  I need to see more movies on the really big screen. I'm sorely missing the experience.

Snowshoe if we can. Well, it's snowing right now and I'm writing instead of snowshoeing. Writing's on my list also and these are two activities that can't be multi-tasked. Gotta get out there. Wash in the washer and dryer. Hubby's still eating some leftovers (see above). We have things to do. We'll try to get out for some 'shoeing in the 'hood before dark....

We did! I just let this post sit and went out for more than an hour. It was glorious and well worth it! Yay, snowshoeing! Now I can eat more leftovers! Haha!

Meditate. Still working on this practice. I know I can do better here. I'm really comfortable with what I believe in spiritually and what I want to strive for, but I acknowledge I have a great and long way to go.

I am happy to be just a tiny speck on this wonderful earth in a greater universe of good. I have so much to learn yet and there's so much more to think about. I can't learn it all, but I'll die trying, and that is all good.

Again, the theme I see is that I need to take more time for me, to be within myself, to work on my goals for peace, spirituality, and serenity. I want to work harder on the softer things. Keep on keeping on, I say, and always strive to do better tomorrow than what you did yesterday and today.

Hmm. As I look back at this fresh list of holiday rules I want to consider for next year, it becomes obvious that these seem to work for my everyday life also. Following these rules can help add up to the peace and serenity I strive for any time of the year.

It seems the business and busyness of life are just magnified at the holidays when everyone's trying to cram so much in before year-end. It's all a whole lot of happy, maybe even too much happy, at times.

Yet taking time to sit still can be just as productive and rewarding. This thought process then really is a head start on my work for the new year. Yes, I think. That works for me.

Have you, dear readers, thought about things you did well this holiday and what you may want to do better or differently next year? Please share. I'd love to hear all about it.

Until next time, yours in learning to take time for yourself...Therese

P.S. At least I remembered how I sign off on this blog, friends! Happy holidays and thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Washing away stress with shower therapy


A warm shower soothes the body and soul.
 I shower every day. Well, almost every day. In the winter, when my skin gets too dry, my doctor told me not to shower every day.

"Yuck," I said.

"Just wash the important parts," he responded.

Even yuckier. Yes, my doctor said that to me. Ha! And no, I didn't need him to tell me which are the important parts.

Well, he was right. Skipping a shower here and there was just what my dry skin needed.

Thank goodness, though, that I don't have to go without showering too frequently. Showering is good for me. And not just because when I shower I won't stink and people will like me better.

A good shower is great therapy.

How so? How did I arrive at this conclusion?

In early years of adulthood as a young mother, I thought showering was a time suck. I remember at one point even commenting how showering seemed such a waste of time. I wished for a better, quicker way to get and stay clean.

Every day, the same thing over and over. So routine, washing from top to bottom, head to toe. Necessary, but boring. I could be doing so many other more important things with that time.

No wonder I was bored with such a mundane task. Every other demand was so much more exciting for someone who wanted to move, move, move to get things done.

It truly was hard to multi-task in the shower. I was a resistant captive. All I could do then was wash quickly while worrying about what I could be doing instead of showering.

How could I relax in the shower when I had an impatient newborn waiting to breastfeed right outside the shower door in a rocking carry cradle? I stopped washing over and over to reach out to stick a pacifier in mouth and rock the cradle.

I had toddlers to tend to. I had laundry to do, meals to prepare.

Those days are long gone and shower time is no longer interrupted by wee little ones scurrying through my bathroom, asking me questions or wanting my attention.

No longer is a busy household waiting reluctantly for me to get out of the shower and make things happen for them.

All my children are adults now and one of them is even pregnant with our first grandbaby. I recently recounted for her some of the challenges showering when you have young children.

So she wouldn't think it was just her, I shared that every new mother should consider showering each day quite an accomplishment.

I can't remember for sure, though, when I made the switch in my thinking, but a shower for me is no longer a necessary evil, a waste of time. Now I view my shower more like a well-deserved luxury, something to anticipate and enjoy. 

Why the new outlook? With time, I've grown as a person and slowed down some with fewer expectations of all that I need to accomplish each day, so I don't think it's just that I have figured out how to multi-task in the shower.

Multi-task in the shower, you wonder? Yes, but it's not frantic overachieving. It's more like mindful meditation.

You've heard of the slow food movement? This is the "slow shower movement" that I engage in. Finally, I've coined a term! I googled to check...

My shower time is slow-moving brain time. Time to relax and and be with myself.

I get a lot done in the shower. What do I do there besides scrubbing and rinsing?

Scented natural soaps make me happy while I think in the shower.
As I soap up and let the water trickle over me,

I listen to my inner voice. I've written about my i.v. before.  A shower is a perfect quiet time to think about concepts I'm intrigued with: happiness, spirituality, positive thinking, being the best me I can be.

I can be tough on myself in the shower, and I don't mean that I'm roughing up my skin with the loofah. My inner voice pulls no punches and tells me like it is. And I listen because I know it's all good for me.

I think through issues and solve problems. How should I creatively handle this or that? What did I do right yesterday or today? What can I do better tomorrow?

Some of my most strategic and innovative ideas have come to me in the shower. It's amazing how some warm water and time alone can clear my head and foster productive thinking.

I rehearse dialogue. So now I've arrived at a solution, but it's all in my head. No solution is a good one if you can't effectively communicate. How will I handle an important conversation? What points should I make? Where will I stand strong and where am I willing to compromise?

My shower is a great place to strategically work it all out and practice diplomacy for effective win-win outcomes in all walks of my life.

I draft my to-do list. What do I need to accomplish today? What can I plan for tomorrow? What has to happen right now to keep our everyday life running as smoothly as possible? I can be practical.

But way more fun...

I write my blog. It's amazing how many ideas come to me under the shower head. I've written whole passages under water. Heck, I've written entire posts. Sometimes I'm so excited by a good idea that I ache to write it down. Sometimes I find the time to. Sometimes I don't.

I invent. Hey, there's an idea from within the shower walls! In my spare time, invent a shower widget for dictation and recording any great ideas I'm lucky enough to have. Now where's that spare time?

What else?

I daydream. In the shower, there's built-in time to imagine. Why does the red bird peck on my bathroom window every day, all day long? Does he see his reflection or want to come in? What should I make for a special dinner? Where should I hike this weekend? Where should I vacation next? What's my next adventure? What do I want to be when I grow up?

I accept what is and explore possibility. Reflecting in the shower lets me focus on the power of the present, define expectations I may have for myself, and plan for the future.

With no outside distractions, digging deep inside my soul, I can honestly assess my overall wellness, determine when I need to make a course correction to get myself back on a path, and figure out what I should do to manage any stress I may be experiencing.

I told you I get a lot done in the shower. I've learned to multi-task and use that time wisely, even if it's just to think about how damned good that warm water feels on my tired, achy body and soul.

I appreciate that I can shower every day. Not everyone is so fortunate and I know that.

I want to stay healthy for myself and those I love, so this reserved time has become for me a cathartic, restorative therapy of sorts, dedicated to slowing me down and enriching my day-to-day existence.

The cost is my time and maybe a higher water bill, but if it has saved me dollars in potential doctor bills or psychotherapy, then it's time and money well spent.

I take my time now. I relish the routine. Before I know it, I'm all clean. Inside and out.

The healing power of water renews not only my physical body, but also my spirit and soul, giving me energy in the morning to move on with my day, or in the evening, to settle a tired mind for a restful night's sleep.

Good shower therapy enables me to better use all the tools in my toolbox, helping me fret less and move past any worries to better live my life on this good earth.

I'm no mathematician, but here's a silly little formula for some good shower therapy:

Warm water/soap + time to think = clean (inside + out) = good mental health = < $$ (medical bills) =  life to the nth degree.

This math is working for me. How about you?

What's your shower deal? Time suck or time to renew? I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time, yours in showering our way to a better world...Therese