As we enter autumn, the weather is finally chilly enough for me to enjoy my favorite recipes of the year: pumpkin ravioli, butternut linguini, leek quiche, pumpkin lasagna and all sorts of hearty soups and stews. Pumpkins are some of my favorite fall vegetables; there is nothing like going out to the pumpkin patch on a crisp fall day and choosing a few beautiful vegetables to bake, cook and carve.
What we put on our skin is every bit as important as what we put in ourselves. Pumpkins are very high in vitamin A, and have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties, making them ideal for sensitive or aging skin. I love to incorporate all of these benefits in my skincare routine! My favorite way to do this is to take a bit of cooked (or canned) pumpkin and use it as a facial mask.
Milk & Honey Pumpkin Mask:
- 3 tablespoons pumpkin
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon greek yogurt
Mix these ingredients together in a bowl. I like to warm them a bit in the microwave to help incorporate the honey and bring the mask to a more soothing temperature.
The beta-carotene in pumpkin works as an anti-aging compound while the yogurt and honey provide an extra dose of anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and moisturizing properties, leaving your skin soft and hydrated.
Leave on for 10-20 minutes and then rinse off!
I was out walking with my dog this morning across frosted grasses, crunching along, when the sun began crawling its way up the sky, casting long, visionary shadows across our path. The sky, azure against the hues of autumnal leaves, so brilliant, so out spoken, stunned my senses. A sassy crow called down to us telling us to listen. So I opened my ears to hear the songs of his brethren. At first only a few were apparent, I could distinguish several voices and then suddenly an entire symphony of trills, chirps, chuckles and squawks lightened the air with vibrational beauty. How could I have not heard that only moments before?
The air was delightfully crisp. I was warm in my hat, mittens, and jacket but could feel a thin, almost viscous layer of icy cold air against my cheeks. It felt like the caress of an angel brushing away tears, reminding me of the changes that are going on around us. As I breathed in this chilled air, I felt it being integrated into my body, warming slowly as it passed through my nose, down my trachea and into my lungs... to become part of my very essence, allowing me to continue this journey called life, to continue the walk I was on. The miracle of the human body came to mind, the miracle of life of any kind, the incredible miracle of the planet's very existence - or, let's get big - the Universe! How is it all possible? What must I do to honor this gift?
For now, what I do is express gratitude, and try to remember to do that every moment, every breathe, every time I see a gorgeous tree blushing before me on a cool, golden, glorious Autumn morning!
“I’m Fine With That”
She walks into a room full of non-apologetic presence, frank and full of quick humorous wit…always a smile and fully determined to ensure you smile, regardless of the situation. She is a person who is a leader, whether she wants to be or not. When life wants her to be a little bit better than she has been, she instantly evaluates her personal outcomes and verbally decides…many times…”I’m fine with that”…like the turtle that is grounded, manages risk, develops the humility of limiting self expectations, low and slow pacing and measures decisions…Yet, she states, “I can’t be a community leader, because I can’t follow the rules”.
This is so funny because I was just reading a list of rules that George Washington, the father of our country, wrote when he was a boy…I thought I would share 11 of the 110 rules he wrote for himself… for thought and smiles.
3rd: Show Nothing to your Friend that may affright him
4th: In the Presence of Others Sing not to yourself with a humming Noise, nor Drum with your Fingers or Feet
5th: If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkerchief or Hand before your face and turn aside.
9th: Spit not in the Fire, nor Stoop low before it neither Put your Hands into the Flames to warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire especially if there be meat before it.
13th: Kill no Vermin as Fleas, lice ticks &c in the Sight of Others, if you See any filth or thick Spittle put your foot Dexterously upon it if it be upon the Cloths of your Companions, Put it off privately, and if it be upon your own Cloths return Thanks to him who puts it off.
16th: Do not Puff up the Cheeks, Loll not out the tongue rub the Hands, or beard, thrust out the lips, or bite them or keep the Lips too open or too Close.
30th: In walking the highest Place in most Countries Seems to be on the right hand therefore Place yourself on the left of him whom you desire to Honor: but if three walk together the middest Place is the most Honorable the wall is usually given to the most worthy if two walk together
47th: Mock not nor Jest at any thing of Importance break no Jest that are Sharp Biting and if you Deliver any thing witty and Pleasant abstain from Laughing there at yourself.
56th: Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than in bad Company.
90th: Being Set at meat Scratch not neither Spit Cough or blow your Nose except there's a Necessity for it.
With October approaching, my daughter, now age 4, is becoming more and more excited about what she is going to dress up as for on her big night at Boo at the Zoo. She has changed her mind so many times from wanting to be a hot dog, Disney’s Princess Merida, a mermaid, a mouse and now a cheerleader that I can hardly keep up. I can remember when I was little not having many options. My mother wasn’t a big sewer so most of the costumes I could take my pick from were straight out of a box. They consisted of a plastic mask and apron designed to replicate your favorite character. My favorite was Little Orphan Annie and my brother’s favorite was Batman. I can probably guarantee that they were the ugliest costumes ever made but in our eyes they were perfect. My brother and I felt like we were the real characters and we were sure that everyone else around us thought that we were the real deal as well.
My daughter’s big night is soon to approach and as of last Friday she has finally settled on being a cheerleader. I was so excited that she wanted to be a cheerleader that the first thing I did was dig through the depths of my closet looking for my old high school cheerleading uniform. I couldn’t wait to show her my uniform. What was I thinking; there was absolutely no way that a four year old could wear an outfit that I fit into in High School. As soon as she saw my old uniform her eyes lit up, she threw me my old pompoms and said, “Show me what cha got”. I froze, I couldn’t remember any cheers. This is not good. She is looking up to me, I have to teach her and all I know and all I can think of is “Go Bananas”. Was I really that old? So I went for it, “Go bananas, GO GO Bananas!” we both laughed so hard. The lesson I learned that evening was sometimes it’s perfect to be imperfect. Sometimes being a great teacher to your children is showing them that you don’t always have to be perfect.
Sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness
Emotional Bank Account
My four-year-old son was exposed to the greatest little book in his pre-K program. If you have a little one this is a must read, “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud and David Messing. More or less the book is teaching that when you do kind things for others you are being a bucket filler and when you do unkind things you are being a bucket dipper. This concept of filling or dipping from a bucket has really caught on for my son and has calmed many battles in our household. I have found that this is not just a book for children as the concepts remind me of clinical principles that we use in treatment on a regular basis.
In my line of work I often hear a person lament over feeling they are a burden to others. When we are in the depths of our despair it is often hard to feel or see that we have something to give and quite frankly, we are in need of more support than we can offer. We’ve all heard the old adage that you can’t help someone else unless you first help yourself. Yet, we also know that there is tremendous healing power in recognizing our ability to help and positively affect others. In relationships I like to think of it as if we all have an emotional bank account that we make both deposits and withdrawals from on a daily basis. When you do something for someone else you are in essence making a deposit into his or her emotional bank account. It is very likely that you will need to make a withdrawal at some point. If we are only leaning on others for support and never giving it, we may find it more difficult to find support in our time of need because we may find that we have a one sided relationship. What’s the balance look like on the accounts that you have with friends and family? Call up another and be the ear for them rather than the other way around. If you do this you will find your account with them will never be in the negative.
A Spoonful of Medicine…
The times when we listen to the sadness and complaints of others often make us want to jump in and let them know exactly what to do. This will be fixed by doing this or that. Maybe it will be fixed and maybe it won’t. It's often more true that when a person is sharing something painful with you, they are not looking for unsolicited advice of what to do. They often appreciate a hearing ear while they are disentangling all their own thoughts and feeling. Often a person full of anxiety and dread can work through all the pieces of how they got there with a listening ear and a few questions from a caring friend.
Telling somebody what to do and jumping in with both feet giving all kinds of advice of what you would do if this was you is almost a sure way to lead to a broken friendship. What works for one may not work for another. As they say one person’s meat is another person’s poison. Listening is much harder than talking. Regretting is permanent but often avoidable. Teach those you love and care for to own their own decisions. It's so much better than becoming the attacked in the blame game.
Giving unsolicited advice can lead to you having to take some of you own medicine and that spoon can seem very large. There isn't usually a Mary Poppins to give you a spoon of sugar with that either.
Give positive principles and allow others to do their own thinking. This will keep your own anxiety in check.
The Harvest Table
The ingredients that become ripe and ready to use at this time of year are some of my favorite. Pomegranates are one of those fruits I have not cooked with a great deal, but I love their juice!!
I discovered a super recipe in the book Pomegranates by Ann Kleinberg. It is called Chicken in Root Vegetable, Pomegranate and Dried Fruit Sauce. This is a real mood comforter. Go ahead and try something new!!!!
The aroma that fills the house when this is cooking makes life feel good. Serve with baby roasted potatoes or sweet potato purée.
The Formula for Addiction
“An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula.”
- C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
According to Dictionary.com, addiction comes from the Latin word addictus, which means to surrender “to someone or some practice.” But how do we reach that point of complete, irrational surrender? There’s no absolute answer, but we can perhaps glean some insight by considering the nature of desire.
Desire is defined as “a longing or craving, as for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment” (Dictionary.com). No one is immune to desire. Who among us hasn’t craved a scoop of our favorite ice cream or a pizza with our favorite toppings? Who hasn’t longed for a walk on the beach at sunset or an intimate relationship with someone who loves us unconditionally? Desire is an undeniable reality of the human condition, and rightly so.
Desire is the catalyst for bringing new life into the world. It’s also what propels innovation in thought and deed. The miraculous advancement in technology, just over the last 50 years, was fueled by a desire to help simplify our processes, expand our knowledge and appreciation of the world we live in, and journey to worlds beyond our own.
Addiction is rooted in desire, but it’s a desire to escape our worlds – the harsh and cruel worlds that our minds have created and determined are uninhabitable. The reasons to escape are as numerous as our troublesome thoughts. Many of us may think that our addictions are driven by a desire to escape the pain and stress of abuse, rejection, loss, infidelity, guilt, or unfair expectations. If we dig a little deeper, however, we may come to realize that what we’re really trying to escape are our beliefs about what those circumstances mean to us.
For example (and this may be hard to digest), it’s not the fact that our spouse or partner left us that is causing our pain. The pain is caused by how we process that event in our minds based on our self-protective, and often damaging, belief systems. If this is an event with which you’re familiar, consider how you might complete the following sentence: “My partner left me, and that means _______.” A couple of examples that come to mind are, “My partner left me, and that means I’m unlovable and will be alone for the rest of my life,” or “My spouse left me, and that means I won’t be able to provide for myself or my family.” These beliefs can indeed be unbearable and lead to a desire to escape the resulting feelings of hopelessness. At this point, we’ll welcome anything that provides some relief.
It may start out as a harmless glass of wine or a couple of sleeping pills to help us relax. These practices, if left unchecked, can create an uncontrollable craving for that momentary relief from the pain. This quick and predictable escape route becomes far more appealing than confronting the agonizing thoughts and beliefs that are really immobilizing us. Before we know it, this path of least resistance consumes us until our wills are no longer our own. We haven’t surrendered our wills to the objects of our addictions (e.g., substances, people, practices, etc.). Rather, we have surrendered our wills to the belief that those things are the only way to escape our self-defeating and self-loathing patterns of thinking. Our primary motivation now becomes an obsessive pursuit of the source of our relief, coupled with an oblivious indifference to the people and activities that used to bring balance, purpose, and enjoyment to our lives.
If you find that you are unable to be alone with your thoughts and relief comes in the form of a singular desire that has become your primary focus, the clutches of addiction have taken hold. You have surrendered mind, body, and spirit to the internal belief of external relief. We innocently believe that something or someone will provide us with an endless supply of pain relief. How can anything outside of ourselves fix us? The only true respite comes through seeking help in re-examining our false and outmoded belief systems. The pain started with us, and it has to end with us. Nothing else is possible.
The relentless pursuit of an outside source of relief is, by definition, a setup for certain failure. We can never get enough, and we need increasing amounts to achieve the desired results. Without professional help, the path of destruction is sure to lead to total ruin. Brookhaven Retreat understands the vicious cycle of addiction and offers women unparalleled, individualized treatment plans to empower them with clarity, confidence, and courage for the rest of their lives. If we don’t reach out for help, we become physically and mentally trapped in doing what we don’t want to do, because we don’t know how to stop the “ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure.”
Now I Know
I have always been told that courage is how you respond in the worst of times. Well, my courage was tested at a young age. I had to find the will/strength inside of me to beat all the odds and not only fight for my life, but to fight for a “life worth living”. At the time, I was unable to comprehend “WHY such a thing had happened to me; what did I do to deserve this”. Then I found the courage to accept that I would learn the answer to that question when the time was right. Today, I know that answer.
It happened to me to prepare me for the challenges I have faced in the past 12 years. It happened to me, to make me realize the strength I have inside to overcome anything. It happened to me, to show me the support I have to lean on when I start to doubt this strength. It happened to me, to push me past my limits and into the being the best person I could be. It happened to me, so I could truly understand what it is like to have to rebuild a different life. Today, I look back on this very challenging experiencing and am thankful for the lessons I have learned and the strength I have developed.
Roller Coaster Junkie
My adrenaline is pumping as I reach the crest of the rollercoaster. Right before the big drop, my hands fly up high into the air as I’m sent over the edge on a 90 second thrill ride. Roller coasters and thrill rides have always been something that I have loved. Ever since I was young my family would go to many amusement parks, my favorite being Cedar Point in Ohio. I love the rush of that first drop, the flips, the spins, and turns all of it brings a giant smile to my face even thinking about it.
However, there is one roller coaster that I’ve not enjoyed riding, the emotional roller coaster. For me it was a toxic relationship in which I let my emotions be dictated by the other person. I was unable to get off of the ride, or rather wouldn’t. If I were to be that happy that day, it would only be because the other person had “allowed” it. Most days were spent depressed, due to the other person’s words and power they held over me. From the outside, everyone could see how simple it was to get off the ride. From within however, it seemed impossible. The lies that haunted me were screaming that I was worthless, I wouldn’t be able to function without him and that if I were to survive there would be no one else to ever care for me. Like I said, lies.
Eventually I did get off that ride. It was a very liberating and scary day but it was day that changed my life forever. I found out many things about myself. The first thing I learned was that I could indeed live without that person in my life. Second, I learned that I’m in charge of my emotions and I will never let someone dictate my emotions again. Another thing I learned was how to smile again and to form relationships with those around me. For you see, I had isolated myself from the world, which is why this person seemed so crucial to my existence. I didn’t want to be invisible. What I didn’t know what just by being me and owning my own truth, eventually people would come into my life and stay. Finally I learned, I had a ton of worth and to not take that for granted.
I still love roller coasters and consider myself a junkie. However, if you find yourself on an emotional roller coaster where you are happy one minute and sad the next, or you’re letting someone dictate your emotions like I once did, know that there is life after the ride. It’s ok to yell that you want off because you can get off anytime. Getting off the ride was the best choice I’ve ever made.