soulful spring cleanse

via dawnontheville.wordpress.com

I’ve done nothing but clean, cull and move since January! I am so over it. So, I’m offering up a different kind of spring cleaning. You know how I love to be different.

The Windows=Attitude.

How do you see the world? Your world? This is all you; your attitude. Do you need an attitude cleanse? A cold, long winter can build up feelings of inner despair. All that hunkering down with comfort food because you “deserve it”, because your job is miserable, your relationship isn’t what you hoped, “True Detective” is over…whatever the reason. This I know is true: YOU are in control of your attitude. Guaranteed change only comes with change in you. Let’s Windex that attitude for the season and see what good energy reflects back your way.

What you send out through social media says a lot about your “window”, as well. (No, not that your hand on your hip makes your arm look thinner…we get it.) Are you sending out solutions or are you adding to the noise? Are you a hater or are you an inspiration to others? If someone were to pull up your “feed”, what are you serving up?

The Baseboards=Relationships

We all need a support group. Maybe not in a fluorescent lit room, in a circle of chairs, jones-ing for a cigarette, but a group of friends that support YOU, no matter what, without question, James Taylor/Carole King style: you just call out their name and they are there.

I wouldn’t have the gumption to write, live big or simply survive without my Scrabble girls. We started getting together for speed Scrabble, 10 years ago, but, then it became oh, so much more. We have gone through life and death together. We have prayed desperately together, we have traveled together. We have cried together. And, my God, have we laughed together. As we recently reminded each other, our friendship is based on absolute acceptance. We never have to apologize for ourselves when life gets in the way of our time together. True friendship should never be taken for granted, and the care and keeping of these special friends is vital.

I have a group on Twitter that shares a passion and love for classic film. I love when I have free evening, turn on Turner Classic, open my Twitter feed and instantly we are all together; offering trivia, critiques and laughter from all over the planet. Luckily, many of us will converge in Los Angeles next month for the TCM Film Festival; finally meeting some new faces and seeing others for our once a year blow-out.  Now, obviously this is more of a theoretical baseboard, but during moments of solitude or insomnia, I assure you, “they are real and they are spectacular”. I can always count on TCMParty.

Step out into the sunlight. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to search out and develop strong, empowering friendships with like-minded people.

The Junk Drawer=Procrastination

What holds you back from making those little, everyday decisions? Turning the report in on time, getting bills paid, cleaning out the emails, starting that DIY Pinterest project, signing up for that yoga class, healthy eating, exercising, etc? Procrastination.

Not going to write much on this, let’s not waste one more moment on it.

Pull that drawer out and dump it. Today is a new day. It is so easy to accumulate that junk drawer of excuses; all those lame little reasons for not getting started. You’ve always wanted to (insert exciting endeavor) So, go do it, already!

images

Your Closet=Life Changes & Letting Go

What, who are you needing to let go of to make the big decisions. What is holding you back from the life change you know you want? It’s just like those jeans you can’t throw away, because you swear you’re going to fit into them again. Look, I believe you will fit into them again, I really do. But, regardless of being a size whatever again, those stonewash, pleated jeans aren’t going to look good on anybody! You’re going to want new jeans!  If it doesn’t make you feel beautiful, pitch it. You have to clear out to make room for the new and improved.

If you have people in your life that don’t make you feel beautiful, well, pitch them. Those “friends” that pay back-handed compliments, talk behind your back, gossip and silently resent your life, have to go. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic Bette Davis scene with yelling and screaming. Just let them gently go. You don’t have to take those drunk dials in the middle of the night. You deserve better than that guy that pops in, conveniently at 2:20am, after the bars have closed. You most certainly do not need anyone manipulating your time, your life, your well-being.

It is time to let go of anyone that you cannot trust. Love, business, friendships, partnerships; trust is key. Without it, you have nothing. Let go and make room for the trusting, loving, healthy relationships that you deserve. Holding on to toxic, untrustworthy people is like holding on to a closet full of stonewashed mom jeans. Not good for anybody.

i_ve_got_your_back____by_shutter_shooter-d4vvxv1

The Fridge=Health & Prosperity

A perfect example of false over abundance. Toss the expired and recycle. Make a silent promise to only fill this cold box with healthy, fresh food that fuel your mind, body and soul. How many times have you opened your fridge, stared at the full shelves and proclaimed that there is nothing to eat? Clean, cull and be a good steward of what is on hand. Then, you open the space for fresh opportunity. New, healthy, exciting prospects. And, make sure that you always have that bottle of champagne chilling. That is you offering, your intention to bring celebration into your life.

Like when you’re done cleaning the fridge. Cheers.

The Crystal/Fine Jewelry=Family/Spouse

Look in the mirror, people. We are not getting any younger! Neither are our parents and sibs. One of the best things of 2014 for me, is that my mom has learned how to text. This makes life so much easier and I will forever be in debt to Steve Jobs. In this day and age, there isn’t any reason we cannot stay in touch with our family. It doesn’t have to be every day or even every week, but those delicate, precious gems that we lived with for the first 18 years of our lives deserve a shout-out every now and then. No matter your complicated history, they are the only ones that know your full history. Let’s keep them happy and keep them from testifying against you, if the case should arise. Everybody wins.

My grown children. In the 27 years of polishing and shining them up for the world, they are now out of the “safe” and on their way. Their OWN way. Not MY way. I’ve got my own roads to travel, my passport to fill, new goals and aspirations. What they need from me is simply my support and love. Sure, a little advice here and there, but no agenda of my own. I want them healthy and happy. I have no demands or expectations, besides the obvious. Be kind, put good into the world, make responsible choices, don’t go to jail and give me grandchildren someday. Please.

Psychologists are still out on soul mates, but I have proof and I am blessed. This relationship needs more than the infamous once a year polish. Everyday, your partner should feel loved, cared for and cherished. Simply. It doesn’t have to be big, epic events everyday. Just the basics: “Please”, “Thank you” and “I love you”. Don’t let too much time pass by without showing gratitude and admiration.  Then, it becomes as cumbersome as the laundry. It’s all piled up, you have nothing to wear, you’re totally overwhelmed and it kind of starts to reek.

And, nobody wants a marriage that reeks. Ever.

 

Happy Spring, dear friends & family. I thank you for taking the time to read LivingLola. I’m appreciative when you “like”. I’m grateful when you “share”. I’m committed to spreading a little “Lola” in the world, one little post at a time. Namaste.

 

 

 

 

a new year high

Part One: The end of the beginning

Trout Creek, Montana
Trout Creek, Montana

We were told only to dress warmly. The guides provided Brawny Man snow boots and gloves. They gathered the eight anxious and emotionally worn families, assured us that we would have “fun” and we headed out.

In knee-deep snow, I quickly found a cadence that allowed myself to navigate the loose powder like a gazelle, prancing over a billowy blanket. The scenery can only be described as Mother Nature at her finest meets…..Fargo.

Ahead of us, the pristine, untouched snow represented the hope and dreams of every person on that trip. By simply looking behind us, our footsteps and the wrecked, demolition of nature in our wake represented why we were on this adventure, in the first place.

For fifteen minutes we trudged, Jordan and Larkin at my sides, we were already giggling. “Where are they taking us?”  Joshua walked ahead with his new friends. I thought to myself, “He’s only know these guys for 30 days and they know everything about each other.” Then, I realized, “Hell, I’ve just met these other parents 4 days ago and I will remember them forever.” Let’s just say, you really get to know folks pretty quickly in a “group” setting.

What a week. Starting the New Year, 2013,  in Montana. At a young men’s rehab facility. What was it, that Dr. Seuss said? Ah, yes…”Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

Larkin and I were not blind sighted by our son’s addiction to prescription pills. Addiction runs loyal  and deep on the male side of our family. Hello? Remember my brother-in-law’s book? (And yes, he is named after his uncle.)

Still, you’re really never prepared to watch your child pour out his heart, declare his failures and share his darkest secrets in a big circle of strangers under fluorescent lighting.

I had never been to any kind of group therapy/meeting. I had always said my last name when I met new people and I most certainly had never heard my name echoed right back to me, by a room full of people who looked exactly how I felt. Heartbroken, terrified and clueless.

We were all shell-shocked families gathering in a warm cabin, remarkably sharing the same story. We were all the same. Sure, different backgrounds, different settings. But, we all had the same questions burned into our eyes, written all over our faces…will THIS work? Is this nightmare over?

On that last morning of Family Week, a year ago today, we trudged into the woods for our “Family Course Challenge”. The counselors asked our sons, ages 14-22, to blindfold their families and asked us to be silent. (Ha!)  Joshua tightened the bandana around my head and I quickly realized I didn’t have my bearings as to where Jordan and Larkin had ended up. Our sons gently maneuvered us into a line and we were told to grab the rope to our right.

Where? What rope? Where? Oh, whew, okay I got it, I got it. No talking! Ssshhh. Silence, please!

The guide announced that we would be taking a hike. Blindfolded. In silence. In three feet of snow. Led by a bunch of addicts.

Awesome.

Our chain gang began the hike gingerly, each of us trying to step accurately without falling. It was made difficult by each of the 16 people blindly tugging and pulling on the same rope. We must all look drunk right now. It took us all a few minutes to steady ourselves, but we developed a rhythm quite quick.

After awhile, I found myself in the groove; even daydreaming about the sound of the quiet. I was really taking in the sounds; my boots crunching in the snow, the group’s collective breathing, a lonely bird cawing overhead. Probably a vulture biding his time, I thought, surely one of us is going down.

The crisp, fresh air felt like an astringent on my face. Funny, I wasn’t even cold. I was just in the moment.

Then, up ahead, the path became rocky and one of the moms bobbled. The rope started to lurch forward and I immediately felt a panic mixed with vulnerability and competitiveness. “There is no way I’m falling!” 

Oh, no…I can’t yell and I’m starting…to… to fall…wait, no…oh!

In one superhero-like flash, two powerful hands grabbed my shoulders from behind me, caught me before I could fall, straightened me right up and whispered in my ear:

I got you, mama.

My breath stopped. It was so quiet that I felt my beautiful baby boy’s whisper echo right through me, into the trees and out into the morning air. “I got you, mama.” I hadn’t even realized that Joshua was near me, watching me struggle blindly. Literally.

That gesture, him catching me; taking care of me, overwhelmed me in an instant. I recognized the cold that very moment, as those first hot tears spilled down my face in silence. My son saved me from falling.

Just like we were trying to save him.

Every time I recall this story, my throat catches. It is hands down, one of the top five most precious moments of my life. That hike, that day, that whole week, actually. The love, strength and honesty we shared with each other, with total strangers, was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

If you would’ve told me that one of my best New Year’s ever would be “Family Week” at a substance rehabilitation facility, in the mountains of Montana, I would’ve simply replied:  “You must be high.”

 

one year and countingone year and counting

 

I gave myself a full year, before I shared our story. I am more than proud that Joshua chose help and committed to this path, made even more challenging as he is a college student. As hard as it was, I can honestly say, that 2013 was a great year for our son. 

If you have a loved one in your life that has a substance addiction, please do not feel alone. Get to an Al-Anon meeting, find a trusted friend or get in touch with me. Keeping it to yourself only adds to the fear. I promise you, it is more common than you think. You are not alone. 

inspiration for 2014

I know we have that kind of relationship. We don’t talk everyday. Yet, when we finally get together, it’s like time hasn’t passed. We don’t skip a beat. Just that kind of relationship.

I don’t want to be a buzz kill on NYE, but I am so ready for 2013 to be over. To end the longest year ever, I wanted to give you some straight up Living Lola inspiration.  Spunky anecdotes that really helped me through this tumultuous year.

These past few days have been filled with sending our kids back to their cities, cleaning out the fridge (so much damn food; Resolution #1: less waste) and willing the evergreen garland to last until the New Year or at least, heavy trash day.

The end of the holiday season always brings a little melancholy with that certain spark of hope. A clean start.  A new year.  Right after you throw out the gross food and dead evergreen remains.

Gratitude. Inspiration. Motivation. ‘Tis inevitable.

There is much to be thankful for, but there is also much work to be done. Larkin and I have big changes coming in 2014. I was just about to start making my lists, my resolutions, my game plan. Then, on the corner of Overwhelming and It Will Never Happen, I came across this:

This.

Elana Miller, MD
Elana Miller, MD

*Beep. Beep. Beep.*….Back it up.

Twitter is a funny thing. You read 140 words from people who are like-minded. People who share your interests. People who make you laugh with the scroll of a thumb. People you’d like to drink with at a cozy, neighborhood bar.

@ElanaMD has inspired me, made me laugh, offered advice.  And, “Holy Shit…” she has cancer. She could probably use a drink, too. Her blog post announcing her diagnosis will make you reevaluate your NY resolutions. Her humanity and candor will inspire you. I welled up reading her blog post, filled with emotion. She’s on my Twitter feed, for Godsakes!

Do we cry over Twitter/blogger relationships? (Do we really capitalize “blogger” or is WordPress spellcheck just fucking with me? (Resolution #2: less colorful language)

Well, I say “yes.” (To the first question, of course. Screw the capital ‘B’. Unless you’re Beyoncé, which obviously starts with a “Queen”, anyway.)

My Twitter feed is a personal, custom-made window to the world, as I choose to see it. Roger Ebert’s amazing tweets left a huge, gaping hole that I still miss. There are just some social media relationships that cannot be replaced.

I submit Dr. Elana Miller’s story for your 2014 Inspiration consideration.

LIVE your life and PRAY for hers. Pretty simple.

My story can wait. After all, we do have that kind of relationship.

 

Find amazing articles regarding mental wellness at www.zenpsychiatry.com. She really is brilliant. 

 

 

 

friday, a beginning

Mary Shelley via behappy.me
Mary Shelley via behappy.me

 

On this very rainy Spring day, I find myself offering “new beginning” messages and advice to some of the closest people in my life. And, God, by no means do I have the answers. I just happen to have an over-abundance of the one thing that always seems to be the most annoying thing to the people closest in my life: a positive, self-disciplined, roll up your sleeves and show some muscle, “We can do this” spirit.

Several friends and family going through divorce. Some starting ALL over. Devastating and heart-breaking, yes. But, I also see the liberating, shake up the Etch-a-Sketch side. The fresh start. The clean slate. (This is usually where annoyance kicks in.)

Our kids, all in their twenties, are all making big life changing choices right now, as well. Ah, but that is what your twenties are for, no? The growing and maturing out from under and away from your parents. Trying on new locales, lifestyles and different jobs to see what is a good fit.

“Good fit”…hmm?….well, let me start with that.

New you. If you are trying to actually get fit, then do it now. It will never be as easy as it is in your twenties. Just saying. Make it a habit now. Get crazy about it. Fall in love with being good to your body. You will always have to be active in some way, as long as there is good food and cocktails. So start the self-discipline this minute. You will thank me when you are 47. And, you can thank me by taking me out for a cocktail.

New cities. Did you leave home to go to college, swearing you’d be back in four years? Do you stay in your college town, because it is just that awesome? Do you live where you have always dreamt of living? What holds you back? Do it now.  Now, while you’re young, nimble and traveling light. Spouses, jobs, kids weigh a freaking ton. It is so much harder to chase your dreams with a conga line of baggage. Albeit, beautiful and loving and Louis Vuitton-esque. It is still baggage. Even with the LV’s plastered all over it, it is STILL heavy.

New jobs. This is what you wanted that awesome education for, right? Get the job you love! Take your passion, make it happen…Irene Cara that interview! (Didn’t get that reference? Hello! I said, I am F O R T Y-S E V E N.)

You have the entire internet to find any possible job anywhere in the whole wide world. WORLD! That is why it is called the WORLD WIDE WEB. Do you know how utterly amazing that is? There are jobs everywhere. There are “engines” that do the searching for you. GO!  Go get yours. All you have to do is click, swipe and press send on your computer, iPad, smart phone, tablet or (insert latest gadget here). Done, resume sent. Do it now.

Poor things, you won’t ever even know what it’s like to dirty your fingers with black newspaper ink, scrolling the “want ads” for any little job possibility, in your field, in your one town!  “Gee, that’s a great story, Grandma.”

New friends. Who lasted from High School? Which college friends held your hair back while you vomited and will be in your wedding? Choose well and they will last a lifetime. Now, is the time to cut loose the friends that are not adding to the flavor of your life. It is okay to have fond acquaintances from your youth, but they just may not fit into your recipe for life, at this time. Hell, some may have even past their expiration date.

If you hang with people who bring you down, scoff at your adventurous ideas for an exciting life, offer back hand compliments or just plainly suck the very marrow from your bones, then, gently and gracefully, (always gracefully) cut these people loose. You don’t have to be ugly about it. It is only natural. We all grow at different paces. Surely, you’ve outgrown those epic vampire love stories by now. I’m sure you’ve out grown a few life-sucking friends, as well. Do it now.

With all friends, love, marriage and the baby carriage timelines will change everything and will never be in sync, again. You cannot plan that part, you just have to adapt and keep your heart open. Single, married, kids or not, there is a season for it all. It is different for everyone. (Although, it could easily be my new age of 47, but, don’t all of the couples with multiple kids, in these current TV car commercials look like 20-year-old Jason Mraz-ish prototypes? Not everyone can pull off that hat, Kia car advertising department!)

You see kids, the gold nugget that I feel I have been repeating lately, over and over, to loved ones in distress, of all ages, is this:

It is not just on the New Year or birthdays or during the renewing forces of Spring. It comes with every single day. Every single sunrise; a new beginning. Isn’t that amazing? (“Don’t you think that’s amazing?!)

Even on a random, rainy Friday.

A new chance. A new hope to create and live and be the person that you strive to be. It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens with every little step you take in the right direction. YOUR direction. Every single day. But, starting now.

Action. Discipline. Habit. Routine.

Life-changing awesomeness awaits.

What are you going to do, now?

 

I
Annoying pep talks, anytime.

 

 

 

For Julia

via HookedonHouses.net

When I began this post, I didn’t realize I would be posting it on the 100th Birthday of Julia Child. A recipe post is very apropos. Her legacy lives on in every food blog, every recipe “Pin” and every Instagram picture we share. Creating good food is an art and social media has helped up become part of this Food Appreciation culture.

Julia encouraged us all to simply TRY. She is the Godmother to all of us, the kitchen goddesses and gods everywhere, that play in our kitchens each day cooking, baking, entertaining and sharing our love of food.  Happy Birthday, Julia!

 

Everywhere I go, people are kicked into high gear “Back to School” mode. Especially this past week, as I have been helping my sister and her teacher/friend/colleague decorate their classroom. (Jen, what the ‘h’ do you call Carolyn?) As you can see, I have had to turn on my “teacher speak” since working at a place that molds and shapes young minds. Not easy when a hammer, nails and a power sander are involved. That is how my sister and her teacher friends speak…”What the “H”?!…”Don’t be such a ‘B’!”

That is why I could never be a teacher. I would yell, “What the HELL?” Then, open the TOP drawer of my desk for my flask. Why even bother hiding it in the bottom drawer? I have raised four children. I know exactly where the stash should be hidden: Within reach.

I remember those getting ready days. All the forms to fill out, the summer reading to cram in, the packets to pour over, trying to wind down summer sleep schedules for the brutal early mornings around the corner. I lived it. I loved it.

I do not miss it.

I listened to my sister and her friends going over “first day” itineraries and lesson plans. As I worked quietly on the bulletin boards, all I could feel was relief and gratitude wash over me. Relief, that I do not ever have to receive an email from “EDLINE” again and Gratitude, that the good Lord up above gave me the strength to survive emails from “EDLINE”.

(FunFact: Edline is an online service for students and parents to keep up with grades and assignments under the guise of being helpful, when really all it does is stress you out entirely.)

Being an empty nester, I found myself all caught up in the Back to School hoopla, but, with time on my hands. Since I am not out in the 102 degree heat, schlepping Staples/Target bags filled with school supplies into my car, I decided to come up with a super-power filled muffin that I would feed my kids for the first few days of school, if they were here, of course. I had been wanting to try a variation of a Morning Glory muffin with kale. We already eat carrot cake, why not?

I was so amped, that I even dragged my still-like-new food processor out of the cupboard. I always see this apparatus as cumbersome. I cooked and baked for 23 years without it. Just getting it out and setting it up requires a musical score. But, once it is all set-up, it’s pretty amazing. I shredded the carrots and kale in less than 2 minutes. Although it did take me 20 minutes to wash, dry and put the darn thing away. Yin and yang, I guess.

Before you say to yourself, “There is no way in hell, my kids would even try a veggie/healthy/power whatever muffin,” let me just say two things.  1) It’s “…no way in ‘H'”…remember, the kids…shaping and molding young minds, and, 2) These muffins are sweet and you can even make them sweeter by simply adding a little more sugar.

If your kids start school as early as mine did, then it’s still dark outside when you’re trying to get a balanced, nutritious  breakfast crammed down their throats, before you hit the carpool line or bus stop. They won’t even be able to see all the green goodness and protein power these little muffins pack.

If they ask, just tell them it’s what “The HULK” or superheroes have for breakfast. Or something about making them smarter or stronger or faster. You’ll know what to say. We are mothers. We are great at this “s”.

Morning Glorious Bran Muffins

The beauty of this recipe is that you can mix and match to get your 2 1/2 cups of flour. Use what you have on hand. I just happen to keep a variety of flours and bran (hello, fiber) stocked in my pantry. Also, your fruits, veggies and nuts can be substituted and adjusted for your family’s tastes. Let your inner Julia shine and go get creative!

Serve warm with butter, orange marmalade, apple butter or Larkin’s suggestion, cream cheese frosting….Enjoy!

1 c. whole wheat flour

1/2 c. quinoa flour

1 c. wheat bran

1 Tbs. milled flax seed

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon or baking spice (I use Penzey’s)

1/2 c. dried cranberries (or raisins)

1/2 c. chopped walnuts

8 oz. crushed pineapple, drained

2 c. shredded carrots

1-2 c. shredded kale (of course, I used 2 cups. Hence, the Green.)

1/2  Greek, Non-Fat, Plain Yogurt (little tub)

1/2 c. all-natural applesauce (little tub)

2 Tbs. canola oil

3 eggs 1/2 c. agave nectar (or brown sugar or molasses or honey)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line muffin tins with paper liners. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, bran, flax, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cranberries and walnuts. Fold in shredded carrots and kale. In a second bowl, gently whisk eggs, yogurt, applesauce, oil and agave. Pour the egg mixture into the dry mixture; mix well. Spoon batter into muffin tins. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Makes 18 gloriously healthy muffins.

Note: Value does not include cream cheese frosting

Free Hot Yoga at Home

I’m back in Texas.

Hot Home, Sweet, Hot Home.

It’s odd to be “on vacation” back in Texas. It is great to be with hubby, full-time again. We really don’t do well apart. After 24 years, we still act like teenagers talking on the phone at night for hours, when we are living bi-coastal. Go ahead. Roll your eyes.

This week is filled with “re-entry” (as a friend says), i.e. mail, restocking the fridge, remembering what is where. Also, catching up and visiting with family and friends. Two months away is a long time.

The funny thing is that here, in The Heights house, there aren’t any hungry kids popping in and out, arriving with friends or staying out late. There aren’t big meals to plan or loads of laundry (oh my God, the towels!) to stay on top of.  Here, I have my devoted Lorena, helping me to make sure our home continues to look like, well, a hotel. An empty nest perk, just you wait!

Every night, it’s a romantic dinner for two and since we live in The Heights, the restaurant mecca of Houston, it is almost criminal to NOT go out.

Who’d have thought that The Heights would become our vacation home?!

It’s pretty freaking wonderful.

Except for the stifling humidity, heat, crazy flash floods and mosquitos, that are big enough to carry Juliet away. It is almost paradise.

Almost.

Juliet on the Vineyard.  No Hot “Doga” for her. She refuses to go outside in Texas unless she is dragged out, on a leash. 

So, let’s make the most of it, shall we?

FREE HOT YOGA FOR EVERYONE!

The benefits of a Hot Yoga class in a yoga studio are immense. I have practiced Bikram Yoga for 11 years and maintain that it is one of the best workouts to kickstart a healthy lifestyle. It will truly change the way you look at the dreaded diet and exercise routine, forever.

In the meantime, why not give it a go by simply grabbing your mat and heading outdoors? You can take advantage of this lovely, natural God-forsaken heat.

I am currently nursing “impingement syndrome” (it’s a thing!), which is the new bursitis. Bursitis! How old am I?!  Hot Yoga on my balcony has done wonders for stretching and healing my sad shoulder. I set my mat out, 15 minutes before I want to work out and voila! A giant heating pad for my whole body.

Here is an easy sequence from my personal guru, Tara Stiles. And, by personal, I mean that I personally watch her videos on YouTube.  If I had a personal yogini, this is who I would want. Of course, I would have to share her with Deepak Chopra. But, I’m sure we could work something out.

This is basic yoga that anyone can do outside on your back porch, balcony or anywhere that you can fit a yoga mat or beach towel.

 

 LivingLola Tip: Need a new yoga mat? Before you run out to Target or Academy or speciality sports store, hit up a Tuesday Morning, Marshall’s or Ross. The selection may be a little sparse, but for $6.00, I am fine with aqua blue. The quality of mat is pretty damn good, too.

Home is what you choose to make of your space. It is more than geography.

“Wherever you go, there you are.” (unknown)

Texas, Martha’s Vineyard.

“Alabama, Arkansas….Home is wherever I’m with you.”

Namaste.

 

hot yoga in a dish

I know, I know. A spicy, Indian-like chili dish in summer. But, it has been “chilly” and rainy here, so we were craving, well…chili.

With the fat burning properties of turmeric and super powers of kale combined with summer temperatures, think of it as Hot Yoga in a dish.

via eHow

 

Your mind, body and soul will thank you.

Healthy, Hearty Turkey, Lentil, Kale, Bean Chili

 

Ingredients:

2 cups mixed lentils

2 quarts vegetable broth

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 pound ground turkey

1 large can of fire roasted tomatoes ( 28 oz)

2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder (I may have used 4; I really went to town)

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 can of kidney beans, optional for extra “heartiness”

2 cups chopped fresh kale

salt to taste (taste before salting; kale has a salty flavor…we don’t need extra salt)

Directions:

Bring lentils and vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic, onion, celery, ground turkey; cook and stir until the turkey is crumbly and no longer pink and looks more like ground beef, so the men-folk don’t balk; about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, chili powder, turmeric, cumin. Play with the spices to your personal level of zest-iness. Simmer about 5-10 minutes.

Stir the turkey mixture into the simmering lentils. Add the kidney beans, if you wish to do so. Continue simmering until the lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

Right before serving, stir in the kale and just look in awe at the gorgeous color of healthy, green goodness. I garnished with a low-fat cheddar cheese and avocado slices, because we are Texans.

The Boy, who is growing and always hungry, could only eat one bowl. He was actually satiated for one hot second.

Namaste.

Stand tall

Nne Ekeogbede via Pinterest

Last month, I began my Pilates certification on the apparatus known as the reformer. When I have completed my training, I will be able to teach Pilates. And possibly qualify for the “B” team of Cirque du Soleil.

This is not my first certification rodeo. I am certified in floral design, feng shui and even have a throwback aerobics certification from the 80’s, before they used headset microphones.  I have sat through classes in yoga, meditation, cooking, aromatherapy, brain aging, buddhism and most recently, blogging and web design.

A “Jackie” of all trades.

My Pilates trainer, Joseph, has become my guru and mentor throughout this process. I train with him everyday and, quite honestly, he is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He is my “Mr.Miyagi.”

A few weeks back, I was working with him on the teaching dialogue of body alignment and I said, “Stand up straight.” Joseph gently corrected me, saying we are not built to stand straight, but to “stand tall.” Obviously, we each have our own curves and sinewy lines, while standing tall and correctly.

Wax on. Wax off. Stand tall.

I am a posture nazi. My daughter was 5’8 when she hit middle school and there was no way in hell I was going to let her shrink her shoulders and play it down. I wanted her to rock it like she was on the runway at NY fashion week. My kids have fond memories of me walking up behind them and jabbing “my bony finger”, as they lovingly recall, into the middle of their back. That was all I had to do when I wanted to correct them in public. At home, I just yelled, “posture”! Too bad I didn’t have “stand tall” in my mother’s arsenal, just yet.

There is so much metaphor to this simple correction. I find it creeps up in my day-to-day. When someone cuts you off in traffic, don’t honk or get angry, stand tall, take the high road, let him pass. If you’re working on something challenging, take a deep breath and stand tall. It’s just one day, you can do anything for one day. If you are unhappy in you current place in life, stand tall. Grab hold of your courage and take small, considered steps you need to better your position and take control of your life.

On the command, “stand up straight”, you immediately lift your chest, draw in air and hold your breath. How can you accomplish anything in this state?

Standing straight represents the inability to compromise or open your mind to alternative opportunities that may present themselves. You will not be able think outside the box. Hell, you are not even breathing!

When you “stand tall”, there is a feeling of centering calm that washes over. And, you are breathing. You have the ability to bend, be flexible and make the necessary corrections to whatever challenges come your way, mentally, emotionally or physically.

This week, I have not been at the top of my game. We have been hit with a lot of family issues which makes for challenges in managing my time and emotions. I realized I was trying to stand up straight to weather it all. I had to be my future self, the Pilates instructor I intend to be, and remind myself to breathe and stand tall.

Wax on. Wax off. Stand tall.

I didn’t plan to start my blog and start Pilates training concurrently. It just happened to all fall in place at the same time. I guess if I had just stared in the mirror at the studio, concentrating on standing with straight posture, I wouldn’t have really heard Joseph when he told me to stand tall.

But, then again, he is Mr. Miyagi.

 


for the love of Kale

I had planned to post this on Friday, but had to attend a funeral in South Texas. As we made the drive from Harlingen Airport to Brownsville, I was taken aback by the sheer number of brand new fast food restaurants that lined the freeway. South Texas, known as “the valley”, is 81 percent hispanic. This many fast food options, in this area, simply does not make sense.

 “According to a national examination survey, Mexican Americans are almost twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician.  They have higher rates of end-stage renal disease, caused by diabetes, and they are 50% more likely to die from diabetes as non-Hispanic whites.” –Office of Minority Health/U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services

March is National Nutrition Month. As a Latina, health conscious blogger, I felt obligated to pass along these statistics, along with good information about how vital it is to make better choices about food and your health, especially within the Hispanic community.

I’ve had so many relatives develop Diabetes, including my dad, who also survived a massive heart attack last summer. Between my mom, my sister and myself, he is lucky: he has 3 bossy, latina women in his life that tell him what to eat!  So, once more, here you go, dad: for the love of you…and Kale!

Last year, I spent my first New England winter at our vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard. MV is a popular summer haunt that depends on the tourist season to survive; many businesses and restaurants shut down for the winter. For year round residents, fresh food variety can get pretty limited and expensive.  I noticed that the market, which carries local farm produce, was always in abundance of this inexpensive, beautiful, green leafy vegetable…Kale. I was intrigued.

 In Texas, we eat greens, as well. There are plenty of southern dishes that include mustard greens, collards, cabbage and spinach. But, I wasn’t familiar with preparing kale. Well, there are as many ways to add kale to your diet, as you can imagine. Remember “Bubba” in Forrest Gump? “…shrimp gumbo, shrimp creole, shrimp kabobs….” It’s just like that with kale.

 The best news is that Kale is not just good for you. Kale is a Superfood!

And, what is one of the best foods to combat diabetes? Yep! You guessed it.  Livestrong.com is an excellent resource that sings kale’s praises and lists other foods to help battle various illnesses.  Fighting cancers, burning fat, reducing risk of cataracts; the nutritional magic of kale is pretty remarkable.

Last year when I began my obsession with this cruciferous gem, I stumbled upon Diana Dyer’s blog, “365daysofKale”.  How lucky was I, to find a kale soul mate? She grows her own kale, and she inspired me to add it to my own Vineyard garden last Spring. (By July, I had eaten it all.) She has valuable information, research and recipes on her website.

 

And, then there is this guy, Bo Muller-Moore. I’m sure he’ll go down in the Kale Hall of Fame. His story has gained national attention because fast food chain, “Chick-fil-A”, wants him to stop production of his “Eat More Kale” t-shirts.  The corporate giant, which has illiterate cows vandalizing billboards  spreading the “chickn” movement, is causing such a stir, the legal defense for Bo is threatening his 10-year-old small, eco-friendly business in Vermont. If you are a fan of small business (and/or kale) and want to help take a stand against “corporate bullying”, go check out his site. Join Team Kale!

 

 

Kale Fun Fact: You can use it for decoration. There are many varieties of Ornamental Kales. You can add them to floral arrangements, or display them in bunches for incredible color throughout you home.  

A multi-tasking, decorative superfood; strong, healthy and beautiful. What’s not to love?

 

Honestly, I eat kale almost daily. I am always finding ways to add it to all of my cooking. As I start adding more recipes to “Living Lola”, you’ll see that I will always try to sneak in a little kale. Now, you’ll understand why.

If you have never prepared kale, here are a few easy suggestions to getting creative with this very versatile veggie:

  • add a handful of chopped kale to you favorite smoothie
  • scrambled kale and eggs: saute kale to soften with your butter or oil; scramble away
  • coarsely chopped kale can be added to ANY soup, right before serving
  • add chopped kale to any pasta dish; the bright green adds gorgeous color
  • instead of chopped parsley to garnish, finely chop kale
  • kale chips, that seem to have swept the nation: spread big pieces of kale on a cookie sheet, spray with olive oil, dash of salt, bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. Keep on eye on them to test your oven for desired crispness.
  • crumble baked kale chips over popcorn to add huge nutritional value to snacking

Okay, okay. Now, I’m starting to sound like Bubba. But, you get the idea.