Today’s discoveries in neuroscience bring us an understanding that those practicing prayer and meditation have known since the beginning of time. There are positive effects from everyday activities like walking, noticing something of beauty, or…eating chocolate and chilie peppers that start in the brain and move throughout our bodies. There is a direct link between thinking, behavior, and how the ability to regulate mood results in better physical health.  Neuroscientists today understand more about the mechanics of this connection between brain and body, spiritual and physical, than ever before.  

On my journey to managing fibromyalgia and overcoming PTSD I have learned to identify ways to assist and enhance my body’s own natural distressing systems by tapping into this brain/body connection. I learned from Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood that self-care is more than having every hair in place and lipstick on before you answer the door no matter the time of day or night. One can look fabulously gorgeous on the outside while falling apart on the inside. Somewhere along my journey to wellness I discovered that life balance is chocolate covered and spiced with chiles.

Did you know that chocolate is a psychoactive food? Meaning, it has the ability to affect the mind, mood, and other mental processes. Similarly capsicum or chile peppers “fool the mouth” into thinking it is in trouble with their searing pain, only to reward with a euphoric rush. I love knowing that chocolate and chiles have properties that increase my “feel good” hormones. I delight in partaking of them from time to time with the awareness that this is good for me – mentally as well as physically.

A while back my husband, knowing my affection for all things cocoa, brought home a chocolate cake as a gift of love and kindness to me. This was one of those artisans cakes with umpteen layers slathered over, under, and around with thick velvety fudge frosting. On top, in pink gloss frosting, the sentiment, “I Love You” was delicately inscribed. It was not my birthday, nor our anniversary. He brought it to me “just because”. This reminded me of my studies in the attributes of God. One attribute is Loving Kindness or Chesed. It’s a giving thing. It is an expression of goodness and greatness just because. Nothing I did to deserve it. It is unbounded and unmerited. It gives and gives. Chesed on its own is endless. It’s the entire cake…and more.

My first thought upon being presented with this loving kindness was “How sweet…literally! What on earth am I to do with an entire cake?” (We’ll talk another time about charity/sharing) My primal force said, “Eeeaat…cake gooood. Eat entire cake”. Yet, how many of us have the capacity to partake of an entire chocolate cake and not suffer negative physical effects? Not I! I took into consideration that my loving partner would eat a portion of the cake. But he was leaving the next day on a 3-day business trip. I would be left at home – alone – with most of that cake and my love for chocolate, just because… What chesed.

This brought to mind my friend J who is more like the Soup Nazi – NO CAKE FOR YOU! She battles the size and shape of her figure, like everything in life, through sheer determination and force of will. She plans her weekly menus, measures out her daily portions. Not a morsel passes her lips that is not on THE list. And though she looks divine, there is a punitive air about when we have girl’s night out and she says – NO CAKE FOR ME! She totally didn’t get the loving kindness part of my husband’s action. I liken her determination to the attribute of Strength or Gevurah. It is the foundation of stringency, absolute adherence to the letter of the law. A strict meting out of justice. Absolute judgment. NO CAKE FOR YOU! Gevurah is primarily an act of constraint and restraint.

So, how do I find a healthy place of balance for myself between my husband’s chesed and my friend’s gevurah? While I am looking for this balance between the entire cake kindness and NO CAKE FOR YOU stringency, along comes the attribute of Mercy, a.k.a. tiferet. Tiferet – which literally means beauty or glory – is the most central attribute as it mediates between kindness and strength. It implies a compromise – a “little of this, a little of that.” Herein I realized lies the beauty of genuine balance.

To apply this practically in my life I went to Trader Joe’s and purchased a tin of chocolate wedges that contain 70% dark cocoa along with chile. After work I joined my very chesed husband as he lounged out on our back deck. As we listen to the birds chatter and watched the sun set over the mountains, a wedge of the chocolate melted deliciously in my mouth. The cocoa flavor dissolved and a bite on the back of my tongue sharpened my senses. Together the cocoa and chilies went to work releasing my brain’s “feel good” hormones – endorphins, serotonin and the like. As a feeling of euphoria enveloped my body, a sigh released, my mood lifted and I thought, “Balance – what a deliciously beautiful chocolate covered concept”.

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I just finished watching Changeling, the 2008 film directed by Clint Eastwood. I’ve had the DVD from Netflix since about March 20th, waiting until I was in a frame of mind to watch it. Why? Because of my own experiences of a local government run amuck (Google: Kern County witch hunt; Kern County Child molestation ring; Just Ask My Children).

Changeling explores female disempowerment, political corruption, child endangerment and the repercussions of violence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Changeling_(2008_film)

Difficult for me to watch were the scenes where Christine Collins, skillfully portrayed by Angelina Jolie, is “thrown” into the psychiatric hospital, without benefit of “a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury” Cause? Paranoia and delusions of persecution. Anti-social behaviors to be sure. But what are they when grounded in a woman’s efforts to fight for her rights or get to the truth? Truth that others don’t want reveled?

Like Christine Collins, I could not sign a piece of paper admitting to what I knew to be untrue. As a result I was marginalized and mentally broken by the very people who had taken professional oaths to “do no harm.”

It has been 25 years since my babies were abducted by Kern County. For 3 years I fought for them. In the end, an out of county judge stated, “this is the story of a family in the wrong place at the wrong time.” I regained custody, but at what cost to myself and those children?

For the longest time, as I fought to regain my sanity, I also fought to regain my honor, my name, my reputation. I finally realized that those who truly care enough to get to know me personally know who I am. They are witnesses to my honor, my reputation, my ethics and integrity.  

25 years later I still wonder about the effects to those 80 plus children who were used and abused by the powers in force at the time. I see the effects on my own daughters who were removed from my care and custody and  subjected to a system that knowingly allowed them to be physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually abused without recourse. Social workers who recommended their return to my custody were removed from the case, jobs threatened.

Part of the healing process is forgiveness. When asked if I can forgive myself, I answer yes. Yes I can forgive myself for not having the know-how to protect myself and my children. I learned how.

 Lessons learned? I didn’t seek to learn how to fight political corruption. Can any of us correct the faults of another? I did learn that if I want a better home, a better marriage, a better government, I must be a better person. I learned to honor my own power and let my voice be heard. I learned to set boundaries and limits against those who would use or abuse me for personal or political gain. I learned that “the ability for a woman to grab hold of self-empowerment is dependent upon the skills she is able to learn.” http://www.articlesbase.com/self-help-articles/selfempowerment-tips-for-women-finding-your-inner-power-source-791668.html

For this reason I founded Institute for FemiKnowlogy as a means to assist other females in their efforts to gain the skills they want and need to thrive in the 21st century.  

FemiKnowlogy™ is not about feminist vs. traditional female roles. It does not see color, religious or socio-economic standing. Its focus is not on the right-to-choose or right-to-life. It is instead, all about understanding the rights and responsibilities of females in the 21st century and gaining the skills needed to exercise both.

FemiKnowlogy understands that no matter what role a female chooses in the 21st century, she still needs a safe and secure home and the skills to maintain that home. To secure her personal safety and well-being she needs loving relationships that honor her values and unique identity. It includes personal finance knowledge and skills, business/career development, and techno-savvy. FemiKnowlogy incorporates traditional home making skills, upgraded and augmented with emotional intelligence to form safe, supportive relationships. It provides workshops for personal, professional, business and spiritual awareness and development.

All of this is enveloped in the understanding that we are created beings and the acknowledgment that there is a Higher Power. We as females connect to that power even in the mundane chores of life. It is through this connection that we find our truest source of power and inner peace.

I invite females from all walks of life to join me in the discovery of LIFE v21.0.9

Gastronomic Simplicity

April 4, 2009

Friends and acquaintances who know me well know that I am not big on restaurants. I am a fabulous cook, as good as, if not better than, the majority of our local restaurants. Fast food, for health and ethical reasons, is for emergencies only. For this reason, if you hear me recommend a local restaurant, know it is going to be a gastronomic delight. Like Santorini’s in Beaverton. Be sure to order the lamb chops or the pork schnitzel. OMG!!!

 

If you are a local Portland-Metro business woman doing busines with me, chances are I will invite you to my home-office for a meeting at some point. The benefit to you is that I will delight you with my home-chef cooking skills. For instance, Vickie Olsen of laPlanette, LLC., and I discussed I.F. strategy over a delightful lunch of Lentils, Monastery Style with bread and a “21st-century” fruit salad this afternoon.

I know you want to do biz with me now! 😛

 

Lentils, Monastery Style   4 – 6 servings

In a large pot sauté 3-5 minutes:

1/4 c. peanut oil (read here why peanut oil)
1 large onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped

Add and sauté 1 minute more:
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. marjoram

Add:
1 c. dry lentils, washed
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
3 c. stock or water salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. diced tomatoes

Cook in covered pot until lentils are tender (about 45 minutes)

Have ready: 2/3 c. grated Swiss cheese

To serve place 2 T. grated cheese in each bowl and top with soup. Good with fresh baked sourdough bread.

 

Recipe from Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé – Eleventh printing April 1990