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How to thrive in alignment with the planets (and how to love)

February 28, 2013 in Inspiration

am no expert on planetary activity, and am luke warm about astrology at best (I’m a Capricorn, if you’re wondering).  When one of my favorite yoga teachers in New York decided to theme several of his classes “planet yoga”, I was ready to bail.  Isn’t this just a little too weird?  But you know, great things can happen when you suspend judgment for even a few minutes and try something new.  So I was delighted when my friends the Astrotwins enlightened me about Mercury Retrograde.  If you are even slightly curious about astrology, you should check them out – they really know their stuff.

Planetary activity is on low volume in my life, but something about this looming mercury retrograde was on my radar had me in a state of dread.  Four times a year something happens in the physical relationship between the earth and mercury that makes things go backwards – which in our modern world, means not working the way we want it to.  Hence “retrograde”.  I was not looking forward to this – the idea of my flight being delayed, signing a flawed agreement, wiping my computer, or accidentally sending that private email to my mailing list and my carefully crafted newsletter to my mom (and only my mom) was not appealing.  It’s still not appealing.

The thing is, if I’ve learned anything from studying the body, and the human connection with our environment, it’s that nature rarely makes mistakes. Dis-ease arises when we are out of sync, knowingly or unknowingly, with our natural rhythm.  The challenge is learning how to connect with the vital flow of your life, which is what we do in my holistic coaching program.

So too with astrology.  The Astrotwins point out that retrograde is about revisiting unfinished business:  Existing relationships that need revival, commitments made and left unfulfilled (Do you even remember your 2013 resolutions?), passion projects that were put on hold.  I love this idea.

So in alignment with forces of nature we may not totally understand, here is an offering from one of my wisest teachers to nourish your relationships:

I want to love you without clutching,

appreciate you without judging,

join you without invading,

invite you without demanding,

leave you without guilt,

criticize you without blaming,

and help you without insulting.

If I can have the same from you, then we can truly meet and enrich each other.

Virginia Satir

Perhaps it’s simply not time for the new things to happen just yet.  I for one am willing to entertain the possibility that nature intended for me to tie up loose ends on a quarterly basis before moving forward, leave a blazing trail and not a tangled bunch of yarn in my wake.

Are you?

I’ll be talking about tools for enhancing your personal relationships on an upcoming tele-conference.  For information about this free call, sign up for Curated Enlightenment.

Ready to tune into the vital flow of your own life?  I’d love to work together to do just that.  Email Rachel@rachelschipper.com with the subject line “I’M READY”, and we’ll get started.

 

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What you seek is seeking you. Go first.

February 13, 2013 in Inspiration

“What you seek is seeking you.”

― Rumi

I’ll be the first to say that Valentine’s Day is yet another attempt to monetize something that is supposed to be free.  But you know what – I’m right in there with Hallmark and Godiva cheering to make this day full of love – because we need a better model to make every day that way.  If it has to start with this one little day, so be it.

We are not in a culture of self-love, or of shouting our love for each other from the rooftops, or of putting love into the world as a seedling to grow.  But we are so close, that this little push into a day of overpriced roses and chocolate goes into my books as inertia.  We are collectively more familiar with longing and fantasy than with the overwhelming realization that our desires have manifested.  Change that today, starting with your own life.  What you seek, as Rumi says, is seeking you.  Go first.

We seek peace in our hearts, our lives, and our world.  Here are three ways to magnify the love in all of these places, starting right now.

Love yourself

Nourish yourself with kind thoughts and good nutrition.  Can you imagine taking care of yourself like you would a lover or a small child?  Ideally for a lifetime, but even just for a day.  This can look like a decadent day of self-care with your favorite healthy foods, surrounding yourself with people you love, or a massage.  But it can also be as basic as replacing the self-criticism that swirls in your mind with post-it style positive affirmations, taking three minutes instead of twenty seconds to nourish your winter skin with body lotion, or skipping a single packaged processed snack in favor of a fresh whole food that your body will love.  How hard would it be to wink at yourself in the mirror, and mean it?

Love the loves in your life

Your partner, friend, or family member are all short on acknowledgement.  Acknowledgement is not a habit that we’re in, and it really goes a long way.  While you may think it’s obvious that you adore him or her, or value his or her opinion or the endless ways that your life is enriched because he or she is in it – do you communicate this really clearly?  Remember that time you were exhausted but emptied the dishwasher anyway? That time you read that draft letter and made edits?  That you keep buying beets even though you would personally never eat them?  I’ll bet it would be nice to for you to feel seen and heard, and you can give that great feeling to someone else.  It’s so easy, and such a great practice to improve the communication and quality of your relationships, multiplying the love in your life – just by naming it.

Put love into the world.

One of my favorite things I’ve come across since moving back to Toronto is the love lettering project.  A young woman has put hundreds of love letters all over the city, to be found!  Committing random acts of kindness feels terrific, and that is reason enough to do them.  Even better than that, it puts that very thing that someone was seeking out into the world for them to receive.  An anonymous flower delivery.  An extra few coins in the parking meter.  A subway swipe.  These seem like tiny gestures, but what you create when you put them into the world is more love, and more hope that maybe, as we sometimes dare to dream, love really is all around.

One last note.  Why is this on a site that is devoted to nutrition? If you’ve looked around my site, you’ll see that my approach connects how you eat and how you live with how you feel.  You can do all of the technical things right, like eating a balanced diet, but primary nutrition – like the quality of your relationships, exercise, spiritual practice, and work – are all intimately connected to how you feel.

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Why is my smoothie brown? (How to eat breakfast)

February 4, 2013 in Healthy Eating

brown smoothie

The smoothie fad has taken off, and with good reason.  Drinking a smoothie custom-made for what your body needs is an easy way to get a hearty dose of vitamins, nutrients – and ultimately energy – that will help you feel great.  Eating whole foods, and mostly plants (a la Michael Pollan) feels good and is great for your health.  It would take me the better part of an hour to eat all of the fruits and vegetables that go into my morning concoction, and I’d never eat the superfoods I throw in there alone.  Ever munched on chia or hemp?  Not fun.  Blending them into a smoothie is a practical and delicious way to get ahead of my 10-12 servings of veggies a day, plus protein and whatever special ingredients I need to support myself that day.  Count your vegetable servings for one day, and you’ll see what I mean!

Now, not all smoothies are created equal.  Many of the ones most readily available are packed with sugar in the form of fruit and fruit concentrates, and not much else.  Popular juice bars like Booster Juice use frozen non-organic fruit, sugary frozen yogurt, highly-processed whey protein, and fruit drink (yes, something like Tang).  Pre-packaged brands generally have a lot of fruit, and while fruit is great, it’s high in sugars and has lost a lot of the nutrients that make it good for you while it sits on the shelf in a bottle waiting for you to buy it.  Even making an all-fruit smoothie at home isn’t great.  Even natural sugar picks you up and drops you.  Do not sugar alone.  That is not how you want to start your day.  Come 11 am, you will be hungry, hangry, unfocused, or reaching for a caffeinated beverage in an effort to increase your energy.  This is all because your blood sugar isn’t stable, which can lead to a whole host of things like weight gain, low energy, and even diabetes.

So back to why my smoothie is brown.  Remember painting as a kid?  Mix enough colours together, and you get…brown!  Every time.  My multi-coloured ingredients do the same thing, and it goes like this:

Insert the following into your blender…

Basics:

  • Organic fruit for a taste that I like, or one with nutritional value I want, like blueberries for antioxidants, or bananas for potassium.  Or mango because I dream of the jungle.
  • An organic green vegetable (or two), like kale, chard or spinach.  Lately I am getting a lot of microgreens in my Fresh City box, so I put those in.  Greens are the food most commonly missing in modern diets. They are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are loaded with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.  
  • Nuts or nut mylk for that creaminess that reminds me of a milkshake, and for the oils and protein they provide.  Unless you are allergic to nuts, obviously (avocado is a great substitute).
  • More protein.  I go for the simplest stuff I can find, like hemp protein or brown rice protein.  These are great options if you already eat a lot of soy, or if you don’t eat dairy (whey protein is a highly processed dairy product).
  • Some filtered water to get the consistency I like.

Options:

  • An inch of fresh ginger, peeled.  This root has so many healing properties, like improving digestion and circulation.
  • A teaspoon of chia seeds.  Rich in Omega-3, antioxidants, fibre, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin and zinc (thank you Dr. Weil).  These are like a gentle massage for your digestive system.
  • A teaspoon of flax seeds.  The Omega-3 rich Metamucil of our time. Need I say more?
  • Half an avocado, for smoothness and good fats.
  • Any other superfood you like, such as maca, goji berries, cacao nibs.
  • Natural sweetener to taste.  Agave, while a processed food, is a better option than other sweeteners because it has a lower glycemic index.  My favorite sweetener is local honey, which ml for ml, has less sugar than agave.  You can also put in some maple syrup, or a couple of dates (pits out).
  • More vegetables.  I like cucumber and fresh mint, or even cilantro.  Re-inventing vegetables from their place as a lowly side-dish or garnish is a lot more delicious than you might think, and a lot easier.

Blend and enjoy!  I like using a Vitamix because I can put anything in there and it comes out perfectly smooth with maximum nutrient bio-availability, but any blender will do.  Stock smoothie ingredients in your kitchen, and put them in the blender the night before if you’re rushed in the morning.  Your breakfast will be convenient and nourishing, and that 11am slump will be a memory.

For more on protein and good fats, and why I recommend eating both of them, stay tuned.  

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