Month 6 – FAITH

I think what I really need is World Religions for Dummies (I just Googled it and there actually is such a book – I ordered it). I would hope this book could explain every religion (in two paragraphs or less) and rank them according to their ability to deliver peace and joy in my particular life. I don’t think that specific book has been written yet, so I’m just going to have to trust my instincts. Unfortunately my instincts are telling me that God has bigger and better things to do than attend to my little FAITH project.

So, I’ll stumble along, hoping that committing this time to FAITH will lead to a greater sense of spirituality, and ultimately, provide me with a greater sense of joy. I’ve been comforted by the early chapters of the book of private writings of Mother Teresa. She encountered times of darkness and despair during her early years in India: “Jesus and I have been friends up to now, pray that He may give me grace of perseverance.”

I pray for the same – grace of perseverance (and perseverance in finding grace)!

Month 5 – FITNESS & HEALTH

IMG_6300Day 1 – 7

#1 – Good Morning Yoga Sequence
Detailed workout at: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-3761/Good-Morning-Yoga-Sequence.html

#2 Body cleanse day 1 

– Hot water and lemon every morning, then breakfast

– For seven days avoid:  Added sugar, processed food, alcohol, wheat/gluten, dairy, peanut products, fruit Juices, soy and soya sauce, corn

#3 – 10 minute brisk walk daily

Day 8 – 14

#1 – Daily Meditation – even if it’s just for five minutes
I love this beginner’s guide from Whole Living magazine: http://www.wholeliving.com/133880/how-start-meditation-practice?czone=wellness/action-change/week-2-purify&center=136747&gallery=136292&slide=81379

#2 Body Cleanse Day 8 – 14 

• 8 glasses of water a day

• We will be reintroducing foods this week – do it slowly. Pay close attention to how you feel right after eating it and hours later. “Some common symptoms associated with wheat and gluten sensitivity include pain and bloating, diarrhea, even headache,” says naturopathic physician Brooke Kalanick (Whole Living 2011 Plan). If you feel great without wheat products, or any of the other restricted foods, feel free to keep them out for the duration of our 21-day cleanse – or for as long as you’d like.

• Day 8 + slowly reintroduce gluten

• Day 11 + slowly reintroduce dairy

• Day 13 + slowly reintroduce soy

• Day 14 + slowly reintroduce coffee (yipee!), eggs, peanuts & corn

#3 – Workouts

• Day 8 – 20 min. strength training (anything that provides resistance for your muscles ie/. sit-ups, push-ups, small weights, yoga, etc.)

• Day 9 – 20 min. cardio. (anything that gets your heart-rate up ie/. treadmill, Zumba, dancing in your living room, vacuuming at break-neck speeds, etc.)
• Day 10 – 20 min. cardio.

• Day 11 – TRY SOMETHING NEW AND FUN – I’m taking Journey for a swim!

• Day 12 – 20 min. strength

• Day 13 – 20 min. cardio.

• Day 14 – 20 min. cardio.

Day 15 – 21

#1 – Daily Meditation OR Yoga – alternate, 10 – 20 mins per day
Yoga (15 minutes): This is a cool ocean-side yoga routine for all levels. I like watching the waves in the background (and pretending I’m in the Caribbean!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53HtuY6bYmo

Breathing meditation (9 minutes): This is great for stress relief – it does a good job of explaining why our bodies need to relax in this way –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wFX9Wn70eM

#2 Body Cleanse Day 15 – 21

• 8 glasses of water a day

• We can eat again – yeah! I’m going to keep having smoothies – Journey & Logan love them too. This is a GREAT smoothie guide http://www.superskinnyme.com/smoothie-recipes.html

What to skip for Week 3:

– Added sugar
– Processed foods/beverages
– Alcohol
– Fruit juices

#3 – Getting funky with fitness

Day 15 – Whole Living Workout: http://www.wholeliving.com/136312/action-plan-cardio-moves/@center/136747/whole-living-action-plan-28-day-challenge#41555 . I love this Whole Living workout – it’s pretty intense, but it’s really short (5 – 10 minutes – I do it a few times), you don’t need any equipment and you can do it in your living room

• Day 16 – Snowball fight

• Day 17 – Whole Living Workout

• Day 18 – Snow angels in every yard on the block, jogging in between (Don’t call an Ambulance if you see me laying down in your yard).

• Day 19 – Whole Living Workout

• Day 20 – Skiing with Logan (he actually asked us to go with him some time – it doesn’t get much better than that as parents of a 15-year-old!)
• Day 21 – Whole Living Workout

 

Month 4 – FOOD

I thought FOOD would be a piece of cake – it was! It was actually many pieces of cake, and sides of pork and boxes of chocolates. I didn’t gain any weight (because I didn’t weigh myself) and I only increased my pant size by 2. Oh well – all in the name of ‘scientific’ research.

Here’s what I did for 21 days of FOOD:

• Made anything I wanted, whenever I wanted to … and ate it!

• Tasted, really tasted.

• Made a five-course meal for friends (crab-stuffed mushrooms, mango-spinach salad, fresh carrots and asparagus tossed with buttered almonds, portobello-stuffed pork tenderloin in a parmesan garlic cream with handmade spatzle, chocolate mouse with red wine/raspberry reduction).

• Tried to master chocolate mousse (failed – three times in a row – that’s approx. 6 cups of whipping cream later).

• Created a self-serve eggs Benedict bar for family featuring my first non-packaged Hollandaise sauce (little thick, but pretty good)

IMG_6181

• Made marshmallow lollipops with Journey (photo)

• Made up any excuse in the book to have people over to eat (ie/. celebrating our neighbour’s 67-and-a-half birthday)

Conclusions I reached:

• Food is a miracle. When you stop to look at each thing you might eat in a day, taste it, witness its colour, examine it’s various shapes and textures. It’s just a miracle. And … it keeps you alive – miraculous.

• Tasting, really tasting, is something I rarely do. I stopped often on my 21 days of FOOD journey to really taste & feel my food – the sweet explosion of honey on the tongue, the warmth of coffee on my palate, the explosion of sour from a lemon. Taking time to taste helps me honour, appreciate and truly en’joy’ the food I’ve eaten.

• I take food for granted. I do not think of what it took to make it, where it came from, how it got here, if others have some. I’m so focused on satisfying my latest craving, that I’ve totally lost consciousness of the life-giving value food is to my body.

• I don’t have to fear food (but somehow I’ve been trained to). When I think of those who might not have enough, I loath my guilt for eating 10 Lindor chocolates in a row. The shift here has led me to en’joy’ what I have more often without the thought of the almighty scale.

• There’s always, always a reason to be uplifted by food. The fact that we have it in such abundance is a joy-giving thought all on its own.

Month 3 – CREATIVITY

IMG_6015I thought creativity would be a piece of cake. I bought 21 canvasses on Day 1 and vowed to fill every one up with a gallery-worthy work of art by Day 21. It might surprise you to know I didn’t succeed (haha).

“It’s too bad that when considering what endeavors may be creative, people immediately think of the arts.” – Michele Root-Bernstein, co-author of Sparks of Genius

Here’s what I did for 21 days of CREATIVITY:

• Painted (set up my easel ‘permanently’ so I could paint 5 minutes at a time if I wanted to).

• Danced (not the usual – ballet, the twist and anything else I could create without pulling a groin muscle. My favourite was putting on ‘Twisting the Night Away’ and just letting loose).

• Played ‘Pictionary’ with a one year old

• Put coloured water in a spray bottle (took it to a ski jump my 15-year-old was building and watched in amusement as they acted like little kids and made landing strips, take-off zones and logos).

• Baked (we went crazy with our classic shortbread recipe, adding chocolate and chocolate chips to create ‘Holstein cow’ cookies).

Conclusions I reached:

1/. Creativity is not ONLY painting (it is dancing and baking and dreaming and writing and imagining and witnessing and on and on).

2/. You can experience creativity without having to do it (enjoying a snowflake’s pattern, hearing a song, watching teenagers paint a ski jump hill).

3/. Creativity is a state of being or observing the world. It is not just something you do or something you create.

Month 2 – PEACE

IMG_6334In October I focused on PEACE. I think I was hoping to transform myself into a female monk, developing the peace of the Dalai Lama and the behaviour of Mother Theresa. It might surprise you to know I didn’t succeed (haha), but here’s what I did:

• Meditated – Oh how I tried. I tried various meditative podcasts, all kinds of CDs and a variety of breathing exercises. Oh, I tried!

• Breathed consciously

• Read – Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh, Gandhi: An Autobiography and Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

• Walked in nature

• Dropped my shoulders – when all of the meditation failed, I figured the least I could do was learn to take a deep breath and drop my shoulders a few times a day.

• Prayed

Conclusions I reached:

1/. Peace is hard.

2/. I’m not an innately peaceful person.

3/. Our society is not set up to cultivate peace. The busier we are, the better.

4/. Peace is a process. I’m not much for process, I prefer to reach the end result just by hoping.

5/. I’ll have to try peace again!

Month 1 – JOY

IMG_6340In September, 2012, I began the first month of 21days2joy. I started with the subject of JOY itself. Here’s what I did to bring myself joy:

• Danced (wherever and however I wanted – mostly in the company of myself and Rick Springfield’s song ‘Jesse’s Girl’).

• Personal Art Retreat at Ananda Arthouse, Forget Sask. – I painted, slept, walked their dog, went to church and ate great food made with loving hands. It was a weekend of ‘Ananda’ or ‘perfect bliss’ in Hindu (I’ll call it JOY)!

• Breathed deeply (whenever I remembered to).

• Skipped (down the street).

• Delighted in the little things: hearing the baby cry at night (we had waited six years to adopt her, what’s not to enjoy about a wail you thought you’d never hear); baking a chocolate pie with my teenage son (after he ate the cherry pie that was destined for the community Fall Supper).

Conclusions I reached:

1/. Joy starts now – right now. You don’t have to wait for happier times, quieter surroundings, a lottery win or a tequila shot. It’s here, now …

2/. Joy is simple. The more I tried to define it, analyze it, complicate it, the more distant it became.

3/. Joy shows up when you look for it in the ordinary (it’s everywhere once you start ‘seeing’ it) – kinda like when you know someone is collecting salt & pepper shakers and you start seeing them EVERYWHERE.

4/. Joy is acceptance of what is, right now – even if a baby is crying or a teenager is pushing the boundaries.

5/. Joy attracts joy – suddenly, people were talking to me about joy, sharing their stories, telling me what makes them joyful, peaceful, happy.

6/. Joy is ALWAYS present, it just has to be recognized, noticed, embraced.