Minimal Monday

Here is a simple recipe that I’ve used over and over to make this yummy, portable snack. I think the official recipe name is Peanut Butter Bites, but in my home they’ve been called Blobs, Balls and “Those Round Things”. You can eat them right out of the freezer or fridge. In my opinion, the colder they are the better they taste.

1 Cup oats

2/3 cup unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup peanut butter, partially melted for easy stirring

1/2 cup flaxseed meal

1/3 cup honey

*optional 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Mix it all together, roll into small balls, and you are done.

Minimal Monday

Summer can be a fun season with all the events, activities, mini-vacations and days in the sun. But for someone like me who lives a healthier, more productive and creative life when I follow a routine, summer can easily throw me off my game. It’s not that I want every single day to be the same, but as a writer, I’ve got plenty of adventure going on inside my head, thank you very much.

So here are a few things I like to do to try to keep the words flowing, and the good habits going, even in mid-July:

#1 Before I go on vacation, I put everything I can in order at home first. This makes for a swifter transition back to home and to the projects I may have left behind. It also enables me to “let go” more completely, and enjoy the time away.

#2 If I am going away, even if I know I won’t do a lot of writing, I at least bring a notebook and pen to catch the inspiration when it strikes. I also bring my walking/running sneakers and my yoga mat.

#3 Even during lazy summer weeks, I keep up with my agenda. I know where I am at with my writing, and where to pick up next time, even if several days go by before I get back to it.

#4 If you read last week’s post, you know I am trying to give up eating sweet, sugary things. If you missed it, you can read it here: https://danalaquidara.com/2022/07/11/minimal-monday-21/ . So I do my best to focus on summer treats like healthy smoothies, fresh fruit, and a refreshing swim; and I look the other way when I see something like, say, double scoop mint chocolate- chip ice cream.

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

My very first memory of sugar is of being about three and a half years old and finding an open jar of butterscotch sauce in my family’s refrigerator.  Where was the lid? What luck! I don’t recall any other time of helping myself to the fridge at such a young age, but on this day, I recall sticking my index finger as far in as I could, swirling it around and bringing it to my tongue. I could not believe anything could taste so good. Why hadn’t anyone told me of this? I put the jar back and scurried away, dizzy with pleasure.

This was the same year that my mother disappeared from my life, and as the adults around me catered to my sweet tooth, my brain began to create a neural pathway that led straight to the cookie jar.  

If we think about a difficult time in our early lives and then think of what we did for relief, we will often find our coping mechanisms.

 Painfully shy as a teen and beer helped you feel more comfortable and social?

Lonely in childhood and food brought you comfort?

 Felt insignificant until you scored that perfect grade/position/career that demanded all your time and energy?

Feared being rejected until you learned to people please?

I think it can become questionable whether we chase something to gain pleasure or to avoid pain. Perhaps it is often some of both.

~

I never did outgrow my fondness for sweet food, and I seem to have gotten away with it so far.  According to numbers – the scale, blood sugar level, etc. I am healthy. For now. But I am also well aware of how inflammation can be brewing within the body and sneak up on you one day with a devastating disease. Our habits of today are contributing to our sickness or health of tomorrow.

There is something I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of called a spiritual bypass, a tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to avoid facing unresolved issues, or psychological wounds. While the practices can be very healthy in general – Be positive! Let go of the past! Forgive!  – they can also be used to sidestep the psychological work of facing our wounds.  And although I’ve generally had a “bring it on” attitude toward inner work, priding myself on not having the spiritual bypass tendency, if I am being totally honest, I have still denied the fact that I have been harming myself by hanging on to my very outdated vice.

 I am finallyfor real this time- ready to let go of my last line of defense between me and my true self.   I know it won’t be easy; I’ve tried and failed in the past, many times. But here I am, ready to try again, armed with an arsenal of tools.

One of my favorite tools is good old knowledge.  I’ve been listening to Dr. David Perimutter, a neurologist and author of the book Brain Wash.  I can hardly wait to dive into his book for more of his brilliance and sound advice. Hearing him describe how sugar disrupts our metabolism, and puts our reptile brain in the driver’s seat, speaks to me clearly. I not only want to avoid the pain of a foggy brain, heightened risk of Alzheimer’s, or other sugar-induced fears at my heals; I want to enjoy the pleasure of clarity, vibrancy and heightened intuition.

 It is only day #2 but I am curious, and optimistic. I want to put the lid back on the sweet stuff, and walk away into my healthy future.

I will let you know how it goes!

Minimal Monday

Last night I had the great pleasure of attending a James Taylor concert at the beautiful Tanglewood outdoor music venue in Lenox, Massachusetts. He put on a great show, and so did my adorable four-year-old twin granddaughters who got to stay up way past their bedtime. By the time the concert began, we had already enjoyed more than two hours of food, drinks, conversation, eventful potty trips and exploring the grounds. When darkness fell, the twins thought it was great fun to hold their little lanterns and adorn themselves with glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces their parents had packed.

I got a kick out of their quiet but silly commentary as James Taylor sang “Carolina In My Mind”.

“Can’t you see the sunshine?”

“No, no I can’t”, one of them exclaimed. “It’s dark!”

Last night was a late night for all of us, and I had no particular plans to celebrate the 4th of July today, on the actual holiday. But I did the urge to make a special dessert of acai bowls, so off I went to a nearby grocery store for granola and fresh raspberries and blueberries for the bowls. But once I arrived at the store, I realized I had left my credit card in last night’s purse.

I considered going back to the store after driving back home, but instead that thing happened when I am just still and peaceful enough to let a better idea enter my mind. The idea was a very simple one: to make do with what I had; to relax instead of returning to the store; to get creative, to simplify, to embrace the idea of less.

So that is what I did. I pulled some frozen blueberries out of my freezer, gathered a few chia seeds, walnuts and hemp hearts from my pantry and we had some simple fixings for the acai bowls to enjoy on this beautiful day.

Happy 4th of July!

Can’t you see the sunshine?

Acai bowls

Minimal Monday

Linda Cliatt-Wayman is a successful leader in education and is powered by her belief in the potential of all children. Her love, passion and unwavering focus on improving the future of children living in poverty is admirable and inspiring. I am not sure how I missed her acclaimed Ted Talk in 2015, but I am glad that I came across it this year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe2nlti47kA.

She invoked powerful methods to transform a Philadelphia school and there were no tasks too big or too trivial on her watch. First and foremost, she made the school a safer place. Everyone knows children cannot learn while they are scared, uncared for and unloved. In addition, she upgraded the aesthetics of the school by recycling or discarding unused furniture and materials. The school went from chaotic and filthy to organized, orderly and colorful.

Doesn’t everyone deserve an environment that is safe and pleasing? How wise to recognize the importance of the physical environment in showing students – or anyone- that they are worthy human beings.

What a remarkable leader. If you have not yet seen her Ted Talk, I invite you to watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe2nlti47kA

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

I want to pivot back to the kitchen today and express my love for a clean and organized refrigerator. I know it may sound trivial to some, but if it is true that “how we do one thing is how we do everything”, then I declare our kitchen habits are important.

A simple way to stay on top of refrigerator hygiene is to get in the habit of checking it before every grocery day. The thought of adding more food to a fridge that may have expired items, sticky shelves, or condiment chaos, is unappealing. On the other hand, emptying groceries into a clean and well organized fridge is a pleasure.

If we have tidy fridge habits, we will likely also have tidy pantry habits and organized shopping lists, and sensible meal planning patterns. One small area can have ripple effects in other areas, on peace of mind, time, energy, and health.

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

I invite you to try on this belief: Your best, most authentic life and Self are lurking just beneath the clutter and baggage.

If that is true, what is one thing you could do today to excavate what is buried? It could be something big or small; give something away, delegate a task, clear out a closet, throw out the junk food, face the old wound, have the conversation.

What would you do tomorrow and the next day to keep the momentum going? It’s okay if you don’t know what you might find. Sometimes we have to get through some sludge before we feel lighter. Just stay curious and allow the treasure to reveal itself.

Happy Monday!

Minimal Monday

It is amazing to me how our attitude about time can actually change our experience of time.

In his book The Big Leap, psychologist and author Gay Hendricks writes that “Time feels like an ever-present entity, hovering in the background of our lives.”  But to expand time, he explains, we simply need to bring our full consciousness into the present moment.  In this way, we can make time.

Part of what I love about simplifying life is that it leaves more time for what matters most to me. But I had never fully grasped what Hendricks describes as “Einstein time” until I consciously set my mind to it.  One day, while starting to fret about the seeming lack of time for everything that I wanted to get done, I stopped.  I shifted to a belief that I had all the time that I needed.  Then I set about doing one thing, then the next and the next, mindfully.

I was present and relaxed that whole day and everything that I wanted done got done.  My shift in attitude had made a remarkable difference.

Minimal Monday

My husband and I are helping to move our youngest daughter out of one apartment and into another. Due to the nature of medical school, and now residency, this will be her fourth move in four years. Moving is a lot of work and the more stuff there is to move, the harder it is. She has learned how to make do with the essentials and not accumulate – and therefore move- more than is necessary.

It got me thinking, doesn’t it behoove us all to live like we are moving? I don’t mean that we should never get attached to a place, or that we ought to deprive ourselves of things we really enjoy. I just mean that if we thought about what we’d really want and need to bring with us if we moved, what would we choose to leave behind? Can we let go of those things now?

It’s a lot of work to move. Packing and unpacking forces us to face every single thing we’ve accumulated. How much freer would we be with less?

Minimal Monday

I think that as humans we are more willing to change something when it becomes too uncomfortable not to. This could be a habit, a relationship, an occupation; anything we have accepted as ‘good enough’ in the past.

Signs will have been there, perhaps for a long time, that something is amiss, inauthentic, or just plain not right for us. But it seems to me that it will often require reaching a painful threshold before we take action, speak up, change, set new goals or let go.

Life is so much simpler if we pay attention to the signs. We act sooner, waste less time and feel more in alignment to our true selves. Yet is takes courage too.