Happiness Hodgepodge

Why is it so hard to be happy?  I asked myself that question a number of months ago.  Like one morning you could wake up feeling happy, and then before you know it someone or something spoils it all. Some wee or gargantuan happiness-killer always seems to be lurking just around the corner ready to sneak upon you unawares.  You may have even steeled yourself, and yet these happiness-killer incidents still seem to successfully rob you of happiness all too often. Happiness, or lack of, is so much a part of life I just had to explore it.

Happiness. Isn’t that what everyone wants? What.does.that.word.even.mean? According to the thesaurus on my computer: contentment, joy, cheerfulness, gladness, to be in high spirits. Its opposite is unhappiness, sadness, misery, gloom, woe, depression, sorrow, grief.

A favorite song of my husbands and mine when we first got married was Happiness is Just Around the Bend by Brian Auger. We had gotten married the January after graduating from high school, had no money, no career, we were both immature and selfish, and did not know how to do life very well.  So that song gave us hope; it was kind of one of our mantras in the those early days. Except now we have more money, careers, and we are more mature and less selfish, but can still find it hard to be happy.  What gives?

To my surprise, I found a magazine at the airport the other day devoted to happiness titled “Live Happy”. Of course I had to buy it. The CEO/Co-Founder Kym Yancey wrote an article on choosing to be happy.  His 19-year-old son who had been going through a difficult time one day told him that he tried choosing to be happy and it didn’t work. Ah ha! At this point I was wondering how in the world would he reply to his son. Interestingly, Yancey was able to convey to his son how choosing happiness can be compared to choosing to be an great athlete. If you choose to be a great athlete you need to do certain things, disciplines like diet, training, hard work, and learning from others.  In much the same way, happiness takes discipline, commitment, and hard work. Pondering this, I think I agree.

There are some great quotes I found to move our mindset toward happiness from www.brainyquote.com. Here is a smattering~

Martha Washington: “I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition”.

Groucho Marx: “I, not experts, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today.  I can choose which it shall be.  Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet.  I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it”.

Denis Waitley: “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed.  Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude”.  (Great words, but I do not know who he is.)

Abraham Lincoln: “Most folks are as happy as they make their minds up to be”.

And I found some more happiness quotes on www.goodreads.com, sillier ones.

Charles Schultz: “Happiness is a warm puppy”.

George Burns: “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city”.

Mark Twain: “Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination”.

Back to a more serious note, the Bible has a lot to say about the subject too. Here is just a few verses.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine”; Proverbs 15:13, “A joyful heart makes a cheerful face”; and Proverbs 15:15, “…a cheerful heart has a continual feast”(NASB).

Happiness can be learned and is secret to be discovered.  Paul, in Philippians 4:11-12 says, “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (NASB).

In closing, did you know that March 20 is the International Day of Happiness? Imagine that! You found out just in time to celebrate.  That should make you happy!

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To Drink or Not to Drink: Part 2

I actually did not really like breaking this blog into Parts 1 & 2, but felt I had to due to the length.  I don’t think they stand alone well, so if you missed Part 1, I encourage you to read it.

So, anyway, let’s launch into Part 2!

What some health gurus say about alcohol:

Mark Sisson decided to go without alcohol (his normal intake was almost nightly 1-2 glasses of red wine with dinner or after dinner) for 45 days in May 2014 to see if his lingering intestinal issues would clear up. He reported that they significantly improved, as well as his sleep. Prior to the experiment, he had been falling asleep without difficulty then awakening every night at 2 or 3 am and then having difficulty falling back to sleep. In one of his articles on alcohol he reports a study that found alcohol to be less addictive than nicotine, crystal meth, crack and valium; but more addictive than heroin, cocaine, caffeine, marijuana, and ecstasy. He goes on to say that alcohol is can be toxic, hard on the liver, carcinogenic, affects judgment and perception, can cause poor eating choices and overeating. He did balance this all with some positive effects of alcohol, all of which are already mentioned in the list above. He thinks everyone should give abstaining from alcohol a trial.

Alejandro Junger MD writes in Clean Gut that alcohol can be problematic in that it can feed yeast and fungus contributing to overgrowth, has to be eliminated during the 21 Day Clean Gut program, then take frequent breaks from it in order to remain dependency free. He also calls alcohol one of the toxic triggers: a food that more often than not can negatively affect your weight, mood, and energy. For fairness sake to alcohol, he also includes corn, other grains, processed sugar, soy, gluten, dairy, and nightshades as potential toxic triggers.

Sarah Ballantyne PhD, in her book The Paleo Approach, warns that even small amounts have been shown to damage the intestinal lining, that studies have shown that it can increase inflammation with autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. Alcohol can also cause bacterial overgrowth by feeding the bad bacteria in the gut and cause intestinal permeability. However, she concludes “an occasional drink might be tolerated after noticeable improvements in disease symptoms”.

Chris Kresser, Your Personal Paleo Code author, states alcohol has to be avoided completely in his 30 Day Reset Program, but it can be added back in Step 2. He then recommends limiting it to 4 to 6 drinks (or in another place he says 3-5) per week. Either way, pretty limiting. However, he does not recommend adding beer back in due to the gluten content, and goes on to say that wine, vodka, tequila, and gin are good choices. He also mentions that alcohol is associated with decreased sleep quality and duration.

Robb Wolf – “Alcohol…has physiological consequences that aren’t awesome. Less is generally better. Sorry.” Has a signature drink he created and likes called NorCal Margarita that consists of good tequila, fresh lime juice, and soda water.

Suzy Cohen, touted as “America’s Most Trusted Pharmacist”, is a pharmacist who deals a lot with alternative medicine and who wrote a good article on how drinking alcohol depletes vitamin B1 (thiamine) and is not easily replenished by the foods we eat. She is 50 years old and looks much younger. Someone asked her what foods/drinks she consumed. Her reply alcoholwise was that she does not like to drink much, usually 5-6 times a year at parties, and not even one whole drink then.

J. J. Virgin– In her book The Virgin Diet says to omit alcohol in cycles 1 & 2 to give the liver a better chance at ridding the body of toxins and metabolizing fat. After that drink in strict moderation, like hard alcohol 1 time weekly, one shot only; or one glass of wine daily at most.

Daniel Amen MD in Change Your Brain, Change Your Life says that overuse of alcohol can give the brain a shriveled, less active, toxic look and impairs function.

David Perlmutter MD author of Grain Brain says that alcohol can be impair deep sleep because it causes the release of adrenaline which is stimulating, and disrupts serotonin production which helps initiates sleep.

Andrew Weil MD– Light consumption of alcohol, such as ½ glass of red wine daily has been shown to extend life span by 4 years.

Other sites googled on the internet stated over and over that benefits from alcohol only come with moderate use and that means one 5 oz glass at of wine for women or no more than 2 glasses of wine for men.

Trial Abstaining:

Due to the many reasons stated above I agree that taking periodic breaks from alcohol is a wise idea. In case you want to get better control over your alcohol consumption for whatever reason I recommend that you check out Hello Sunday Morning. This site I just came across provides encouragement and resources.Morning

Cheers! whether you have a glass of wine, a martini, or soda water with lime in your hand.

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To Drink or Not to Drink: Part 1

In case you have been pondering the subject, yet haven’t had much time to ponder it well, I thought I could lend you a hand, or rather lend you my thoughts and informal research on the matter. Maybe it will save you time, and possibly lead you to look into the subject more as well.

First of all, initially I brainstormed and came up with 2 lists and added to them as I encountered more items. Then I looked to see what people in the health field are recommending. We will start off with the downside as well as the positives in Part 1, then check in on others opinions in Part 2.

Reasons NOT to drink Alcohol:

Hinders weight loss

Can cause lip cancer-I am trying to heal my lower lip from precancerous chelitis keratosis

Being a depressant, it is an energy sucker, can cause lack of productivity

It is medicating

It adds up moneywise

Can cause leaky gut or prevent healing of a leaky gut

Can kill brain cells

Can kill cardiac cells

Can strain or injure liver, cause fatty liver, cirrhosis

Increases risk for esophagitis, pancreatitis, acid reflux, and ulcers

Increases risk for certain cancers

It can be difficult to use control, limiting to one drink for women or two drinks for men

Depletes the body of thiamine, vitamin B1

Can cause hot flashes and night sweats in women

Can disrupt hormones

Interferes with some prescription and OTC medications

Has undesirable, dangerous interactions with some medications

It is addictive

Can cause distrust, uneasiness, and conflict with family members

Temptation to drink and drive, risk of DUI, putting others in danger

Not good for sexual performance

Can cause lack of productivity

Can cause facial flushing

The Bible warns against drunkenness

Reasons to drink alcohol:

For me personally, with all of my food issues, it is one treat I can have

It is social

It is relaxing

A possible stress reducer

Can improve vascular health when limited to small amounts

Resveratrol in red wine is anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant

Can improve libido

Can increase creativity

Can increase good cholesterol

Can increase insulin sensitivity

Can decrease risk of mental decline with aging

Jesus turned water into wine

Conclusion of Part 1:

As you can see there are many compelling reasons on both side of the alcohol imbibing issue. This seems like an important issue to step back and deeply consider. Sometimes I like stirring the pot and encouraging thought on pertinent topics because we can get into ruts and become mental robots.  I hope this is joggling some nuts and bolts in your brain.

If you can think of any pros or cons of drinking to add please do so. This is certainly not an exhaustive list.

I invite you to check out Part 2 for additional information and ideas on this subject due to post tomorrow. It has some comments from some people in the health field that I am sure you will find interesting.

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Resolution: Lose Fat, Gain Muscle

This is the second post in my Resolution series; the first one dealt with decluttering and organizing, which I am still very enthused about.  This post focuses on health pertaining to body composition.  I am just as excited about my plan to lose excess fat and build metabolicly active muscle. Not only are the mushy muscles and blobs of fat covering them unsightly, they are also unhealthy for many reasons.

Originally at the beginning of the month I just figured I would do something Paleo because I have had success with that and I feel good eating that way, but I felt directionless and wanted more. Voila! Mark Sisson from Mark’s Daily Apple recently announced the 21 Day Challenge that begins on Monday January 12th.

I have participated in this challenge 3 or 4 times.  They previously have taken place in September, and I was so bummed this past September when it did not launch.  I was informed when I inquired about it via email that 21 Day Challenge was being postponed until January to hitch onto the New Year’s resolution energy and momentum.  Good idea!

So I am inviting you to join me. It is interesting, a lot of fun, and a good way to get healthy changes going.  The challenge involves eating life-giving food, increasing fitness levels, developing better sleep habits, reducing stress, and much more, all with a spirit of fun and encouragement.

Go to the 21 Day Challenge to check it out and sign up.  There are so many things that you will find for free. I really think you will enjoy this and benefit from it. I would love to hear your success stories at the end of the 3 weeks and what you thought of the challenge.

I challenge YOU!

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Resolution: Dejunk

Resolution city is occupying space in my brain lately. I always love the new year with its new beginnings.  One of my resolutions this year is to simplify/dejunk/organize more. It is then not surprising that I was intrigued to find a decluttering site: Declutter Your Home In 15 Minutes a Day that just takes around 15 minutes a day to achieve everything you want in life (this is my brain taking extra leaps and bounds). Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to share it with you so you can follow the plan and have gobs of extra time to read my other resolution posts that will be shortly forthcoming.

This site has a 12 month declutter calendar to print for free: www.home-storage-solutions-101.com. I actually started on January 1, but it would not be very difficult for you to catch up as some of the assigned tasks do not take even 15 minutes and some are not even applicable. Like I don’t have a basement, so on basement days I can either rest, catch up, or get ahead. I can sense your interest intensifying. I probably need to admit here that I am sort of an impetuous type; I get all excited, jump in with both feet, then putter out due to something like boredom or realizing that it was a stupid idea.  However, here I am, days later, still excited about dejunking and organizing my home plan, and I can really see myself continuing with it all year, enthusiastically even.

Clutter is stressful. Stress is unhealthy. So resolve to do something about it this year. It will be fun and satisfying.

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Flu and Cold Season is Coming

The last time I got a cold or flu was February 2011. There were a few times since then that I felt like I was coming down with something, but I fought back quickly and was the victor. I firmly believe that the best way to avoid colds, the flu, and other viruses is by keeping your terrain strong like by eating nutritious foods, getting enough sleep, avoiding stress, exercising, and avoiding junky, processed, sugar-laden foods. It is also very helpful to wash your hands frequently and not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, which are all entry points for the bugs.

The way viruses work is they get in your system and start multiplying. So the best way to fight a virus is to launch a strong attack when you feel the very first symptom signaling a viral attack; attack it back as fast and hard as you can. Viruses multiply insidiously, kind of like that money thing I am sure you have heard about where if you start off with one penny on January 1st and double the amount each day, by the end of the month you would have about a gazillion dollars. In this respect, viruses are like pennies, except cold and flu viruses work much faster than doubling pennies. It is also important to remember that when you feel better stay diligent for the next few days in case there a few little viruses hanging around ready, like Jason in those horror movies, to assault you just when you think that you are safe.

Interesting virus fact: It is very rare to get a cold when you have the flu, and vice versa, at the same time because your body has already mounted an attack on viruses.

Attacking Oncoming Virus Regimen:

My top 2 recommendations are coconut oil and elderberry extract when I feel like I am coming down with something. I make green tea and add 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil, and 1-2 tablespoons of elderberry extract (see note below), and drink that a few times a day. Prophylactically, I drink this concoction on most days that I work during the flu season.

Then also hammering it with:

  • Vitamin C: 1000 mg 3X daily or more
  • Echinecea: I brewed my own in vodka, but you can also buy the tincture at a health food store like Whole Foods. Hold it in your mouth for a couple of minutes, then swallow. If it is effective stuff you should feel tingling in your mouth. This is good for the gums too.
  • Garlic: Raw, anyway you can get it in your body or capsules for the wimp
  • Cold-Eeze: According to package. This is important because the zinc is toxic to the virus and sucking on it bathes the virus in one of the places it is first hanging out: your throat. Use caution. You can use too much of zinc.
  • Lots of liquids, chicken soup, tea, etc.
  • Reduce stress, increase rest
  • Mentally attack the virus and resolve not to give in
  • Sweating can be helpful, and hot baths
  • Vitamin D3

The more artillery you use the better, in my opinion. A final thought I would like to pass on is that I use a lot of coconut oil all of the time.  I cook with it like with roasting or sauteeing vegetables, I stir it in my tea, and I have a jar in the bathroom which I use on my skin.  I think this keeps me from getting cold and flu viruses and explains why I rarely get them even though I am highly exposed to them being a nurse in a facility where many people come in sick.

***Elderberry Extract is a syrup you can buy at a health food store or on Amazon.  It is kind of pricey, especially for the amount needed if you actually get sick. However, I recently came across a recipe from Wellness Mama to make your own that sounds easy and will be a lot less expensive.  Also, I think it will be more healthy because you can control the ingredients.  

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Food Inspiration

Well here it is, autumn, and I have felt inspired by it and a couple of other things lately to cook more delicious food.  I now have a pot of pork green chili stew simmering in the oven.  A recipe I kind of made up based on the ingredients I had on hand today.  I hope it is delicious.  One thing I know is that it is chock full of nutrients.

As for one of my other inspirations, the other night we watched an old movie called Babette’s Feast.  I highly recommend it if you are in the mood for a deeply satisfying movie that you will want to ponder over afterward.  Anyway, in the movie, surprise, Babette makes a feast. So, I wanted to make a savory small scale feast for when Husband gets home from a tiring day at work.  Another thing that has been inspiring me is watching Emmy award winner Anthony Bourdain on TV.  He is a very engaging chef who travels to cities in the United States and exotic places around the world sampling their food and culture.  Warning #1: Do not attempt to watch it unless you have a plate of food to eat in front of you.  It will just make you hungry. Warning #2: Do not attempt to watch it with young children.  It should be rated PG-13 due to rough language at times.  Bourdain actually has two shows, The Layover, which showcases a city that he experiences for 24-48 hours depending, and Parts Unknown, a great travel show focusing a lot on food.

Sometimes we need inspiration.  Sometimes we bore ourselves to tears.  I hope this inspires you to throw some broth, meat, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, greens, and whatever else seems good, into a pot and let it simmer.  I won’t add, “all you need to do is add a loaf of crusty bread” because I hate it when people say that.  I love crusty bread. They need to be more sensitive to the gluten-free people, the paleo crowd, and those wanting to lose some weight who need to avoid crusty bread.

The flipside of fast, life-draining food like Taco Bell and McDonald’s is easy, life-giving food like I described above that can be started in the morning in a crock pot or later in the day simmering on the stove or in the oven. It probably took me 20 minutes to throw into a pot, in this case a Dutch oven, then it cook for a few hours while I did other things.

Addendum: The pork green chili stew turned out great and was very satisfying. And clean up was a cinch-just one pot.



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